Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Eve, Mary, and the Oldest Game in the World

(Immaculate Conception 2009: This homily was given on December 8, 2009 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani. Read Genesis 3: 9-15, 20; Luke 1: 26-38.)
[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Immaculate Conception 2009]

What is the oldest game in the world? (Hint: You’ll never see a report about it on SportsCenter!)

What’s the most popular game in the world today?

Those two questions, believe it or not, have the same answer.

The oldest game in the world, as well as the most popular game in the world today, is none other than “the blame game!”

It goes back to the Garden of Eden, as we heard in our first reading from Genesis 3. Adam and Eve commit the original sin, and God confronts them about it. And what does Adam do (Mr. Responsibility himself!)? Why, he plays the very first round of “the blame game!” God says, “You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” Adam responds, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”

First of all, God is blamed. Notice what Adam says—“the woman whom you put here with me”! Then he blames his wife: “She gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”

Oh sure, Adam, she forced it down your throat!

Of course, Eve is no better. She proves to be a real “chip off the old rib,” so to speak, by immediately playing round two of the blame game and pointing her finger at the serpent. When God says to her, “Why did you do such a thing?” she replies, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”

The blame game: We’ve all played it, have we not? Perhaps some of us play it all the time!

“It’s not my fault.”

“It’s his fault.”

“It’s her fault.”

“He did it.”

“She did it.”

“He made me do it.”

“She made me do it.”

“There’s a logical reason why this happened.”

You know the lines. There are lots of them.

And then we have Mary, who was not personally responsible for even one single sin, because she was immaculately conceived in the womb of her mother, Ann, and remained sinless throughout her entire life by the grace of God.

Yet, out of love for God and neighbor, Mary did assume the responsibility of giving birth to and raising a Savior for Eve, and for herself, and for the rest of us.

Eve’s denial of personal responsibility for her own sin helped to bring death into the world; Mary’s assumption of responsibility in bringing the Son of God into the world and raising him to manhood brought the possibility of forgiveness and eternal life to us all.

So the bottom line for each of us is this: We can choose in our earthly life to be a “blamer” like Eve (and Adam), or we can choose to be a person of responsibility, like Mary.

For us, of course, being a responsible person includes taking ownership of our sins! It means admitting that we’ve done bad things that we shouldn’t have done, and failed to do good things that we should have done.

(That’s because we were not immaculately conceived like the Blessed Mother was!)

For those who do want to follow this noble path of personal responsibility, remember that confessions will be heard for two hours this coming Saturday, from 2:30 until 4:30pm. This is an opportunity to take responsibility for your sins, and to receive the forgiveness that Mary’s Son won for you by his passion, death and resurrection.

To encourage you to choose this noble and better path, let me make one final point about the blame game: It’s a game in which nobody wins! Whenever we play the blame game, we lose our honesty and integrity, and the people around us have to deal with the consequences.

On the other hand, when we take responsibility for our sins and sincerely repent, everybody wins! We win God’s incredible forgiveness, and the people around us win by getting a much better and nicer person to deal with every day!