Most of us could probably recount the stories that are narrated in the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis from memory. The beginning of the Bible tells us the stories of creation and of the fall of humankind beginning with the sin of Adam and Eve and concluding with the story of the Tower of Babel. In between, we hear the story of Cain and Abel and the story of Noah. These four stories are interspersed with linear genealogies which have as their intent the recognition that we are all descendants of Adam and Eve as well as to explain the various city states that were recognized in the Mesopotamian Crescent.
If we were to place the stories of the first eleven chapters of Genesis on a graph, the line would be seen to descend as it advanced. Each of the four stories shows us the human race sinking further and further into sin, the sins of disobedience, murder, sexual immorality, and pride are all graphically depicted in the individuals who lead to Abram, the son of Terah of Ur of the Chaldees.
We won't return to the Book of Genesis until the last week of June when we will begin to hear the story of Abraham. Including the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis at this time is meant to be a prelude to Lent which is quite late this year beginning on March 1. These eleven chapters remind us of our need for God's mercy and forgiveness. Though it is rather late this year, it is the same mercy and forgiveness upon which we will focus our attention during the six and a half weeks of Lent.
We begin, then, at the beginning, “a very good place to start.” Today we hear the story of the first four days of creation. God creates light, the dome that separates the waters of the heavens from the waters of earth, the dry land and vegetation, and the lights that illumine the sky. The cosmology of Genesis reveals how these people viewed their world. Modern science presents us with a different cosmology. However, the lesson is the same no matter which cosmology holds sway. God is the creator. It is God who made the world and the universe in which it is situated. After each day of creation, we are reminded that God saw that it was good.
This powerful reminder teaches us about the effects of sin in our created world. God’s intention was good. God’s creation was good. Even God’s human creature (of which we will hear tomorrow) was good. God provided us with free will. Unfortunately, sin entered into the created order through the choice that those first humans made in their desire to be like God. As we look at the world today, we see that the human race is still trying to be the creator. We have taken for ourselves the things that are God’s.
As we listen to the first eleven chapters of Genesis, we are asked to consider our choice - God’s will or ours.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator