The Two Eve’s

Immaculate Conception

Gen 3: 9-15, 20; Eph 1: 3-6, 11-12; Luke 1: 26-38

Deacon Larry Brockman

I recently saw a painting by the famous artist Fra Angelico which showed the Annunciation scene taking place on a portico, one which overlooked a beautiful garden.  It would have been much like the Garden of Eden scene from our first reading! 

Picture these two women- the first Eve and the second Eve, each one sitting alone in the midst of a beautiful Garden.  Both women were approached and entered into a dialogue.  Let’s ponder their stories for a moment.   

The first Eve must have been deep in thought, maybe even prayerful thought; considering all that God had told her and Adam about the Garden of Eden.  And there it was too, right in front of her, the object of her musing- the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  God had told her not to eat its fruit lest she die.  Her visitor could read her mind and he cleverly lied to her;  And he did so in the way most evil is presented in this world- under the guise of something good:  “Oh, that fruit looks good to eat; surely you will not die”; and “God knows that if you eat that fruit you will be like him”!   

So clever- because in fact his answers were half-truths.  The fruit was good to taste and eat; she did not die physically immediately; and lastly, she did acquire knowledge that only God had before that- the knowledge of good and evil.  But what price did she pay for this act of disobedience?  Well, God the Father banishes Eve and her husband from Paradise.   

And all of us, generation after generation of Adam and Eve’s ancestors, are born into this world with the stain of that original sin- the sin of pride, of seeking self-sufficiency.  Because that’s what it was at the roots, wasn’t it?  The serpent, the devil, appealed to Eve’s sense of self- “you can be like God”.  Or another way of saying it would be “You won’t need God any more”.   

I suppose that it has been the same way throughout time.  Mankind would like to think that they have all the answers.  There are folks who believe we know how everything evolved and how everything works.  They say we can even clone ourselves, genetically alter our race; and decide who lives and dies and when.  It’s scary; but it is the logical extension of Eve’s sin.  And it is happening all around us in today’s world.  Our culture teaches us that we can control our own destiny, we don’t need God.   

The truth is, we are better off with God in control.  God made everything and He seeks our cooperation in implementing his plan for how everything evolves.  That’s what he had hoped for in the first Adam and Eve: partners who would help him with His plan.  But instead, sin entered the world through the first Adam and Eve.   

And then came along the second Eve- Mary.  We find her sitting outside overlooking a beautiful garden as well.  Mary was also probably in prayerful thought.  A young, vibrant teenager with the world an open door for her.  But along comes a visitor, the angel Gabriel.  His message is absolutely astounding.  Mary is told she has found favor with God!  Yes, Mary was born without the stain of Original sin- she was and is the Immaculate Conception.  Mary had not sinned to that point and was sinless thereafter.  And so Mary found favor with God.    

But even more than that, Mary was told she would conceive and bear a son; and that her son would be the Son of God. 

Imagine what any teenage girl’s response likely would be!  “What, me!  I want to become a doctor; or I want to get married and have a family; or wait a while, I want to go off and see the world first.”  But Mary agrees to do the will of God as she says:  “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done unto me according to your word.”   

And there you have it, the very strong contrast between the first Eve and the second Eve- the difference between putting ones self first, and putting God first.   

Each of us is challenged with the same choice daily in our lives.  In fact, every time we pray, God is there first ready to talk to us about his plan going forward for us- never mind the past.  But are we ready to listen?   

Advent is that special time of the year when we are given time to pause and listen to God so that we will be ready for Jesus’ coming.  This morning, St. Paul summarizes our situation very well when he says: “…We were chosen, destined, in accord with the purpose of the one who accomplishes all things according to his will so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,  We who first hoped in Christ.”   

Remember that always when you pray.  You were chosen to do God’s will so that you might exist for the praise of God’s glory.  That’s what life is all about. 

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