One of the things I love about reading Sacred Scripture is that there are often hidden gems – some hard to find, and some not so hard. To find them, we often have to read passages that are familiar to us with a fresh set of eyes, so to speak.
There is one such gem contained in the account of the Fall in Genesis 3. After Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked. And when God came walking through the Garden in the cool of the day, they hid. At this point in the story, God does something very interesting. As He walks, He calls out to Adam and Eve: “Where are you?”
“What is so interesting about that?” you may ask. Well, consider this....if God is omniscient (knowing everything) and omnipresent (present everywhere) then He already knew that Adam and Eve had sinned, that they were now hiding...and He even knew WHERE they were hiding. So why would an omniscient and omnipresent God ask “Where are you?”
One possible reason could be that God was calling for Adam and Eve to take ownership of their disobedience – which I think is a perfectly plausible explanation. But, I wonder if God’s question isn’t even more theologically loaded.
Think about it this way. God was obviously not asking the question for His own benefit. Which means that He was asking the question for the benefit of Adam and Eve. I think that was God was saying to Adam and Eve is that they were now LOST.
Then, upon finding them, God provides a way of hope and a promise of redemption in what is commonly called the Protoevangelium (first pronouncement of the Gospel):
“I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and hers; she will crush your head, and you will lie in wait for her heel.” – Gen 3:15
This redemption is brought to fruition with the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary. I think that it is possible that the Lord Jesus, the New Adam, had Genesis 3 in mind when He said in Lk 19:10:
“For the Son of Man [i.e. the Son of Adam] came to seek out and save the lost.”
Just as God walked through the Garden of Eden seeking out Adam who was lost, so now, God the Son came in the Incarnation to seek and to save the sons and daughters of Adam who were lost by the sin of their first parents.
The Gospel reading in Mass today (5th Sunday of Ordinary Time) also has some bearing on this subject; because we are told that when the disciples told Jesus “Everyone is searching for you” (Mk 1:37); Jesus responds in a way that implies that it is in fact He that is looking for them:
“Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” – Mk 1:38
Jesus’ mission of seeking the lost race of Adam didn’t end when He ascended into Heaven. The mission is continued through His Body, the Church – which is why we are told in the New Testament reading today that St. Paul felt such a great compulsion to be a slave to all so that by any means possible He might win some by His preaching of the Gospel (see 1 Cor 9:16-23).
So, following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Apostles, and all the Saints throughout history, may we never be ashamed of proclaiming the Gospel – remembering that once we too were lost. And now that we have been found by God’s grace, may we also be found worthy to be called Christians; preaching the Gospel often...and if necessary, using words.