Fr. Dale Matson
In our readings for the first Sunday of Lent, Adam and Eve were in a state of innocence before their fall from grace. God had breathed His life into them after forming them from the earth. They did not have an identity apart from God. They knew themselves only as God knew them. The idea suggested by Satan followed by the act of disobedience led to their immediate loss of innocence and their sense of shame. They now had identities corrupted by sin that were estranged from God and a changed relationship with one another. Their shame was both an indication of a loss of innocence and the acquisition of self-awareness.
Self-awareness is an important developmental step in our fallen world but it is the result of sin. The rouge test can be used to demonstrate self-awareness at about eighteen months of age. If a child has rouge put on her face and is placed in front of a mirror, she will touch the rouge on her own face indicating that she recognizes herself as the person in the mirror. The cost of self-awareness however, is egocentricity. Children are egocentric to the point of narcissism. Their needs and wants are the only thing that matters. Our parents exchanged the rule of God in the garden for self-rule.
Hopefully, as we mature, we adopt a less egocentric lifestyle. Unfortunately, there are some who remain imprisoned in the narcissism of childhood. They are the folks diagnosed with organic or functional disorders. What the rest of us fail to realize is that even if we are not narcissistic, we are still self-centered and egocentric. We are still focused on and live in our own existential universe. We still see things subjectively through our own eyes and do what is right in our own mind.
What did our Lord Christ have to say about this? “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’.” (John 4:34, NASB). “Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner’.” (John 5:19, NASB). “"I and the Father are one." (John 10:30, NASB).
What is the point of these verses? I believe that they demonstrate that Christ who was fully human and divine was always conscious of His identity in relationship to the Father. Because He was without sin, he enjoyed the relationship with the Father that Adam and Eve lost for themselves and us. As Christians, Christ is revealed in us, is living in us and is being formed in us. As Christians, we are to live a crucified life. Lent is the time to put off the old self (Colossians 3:12), the egocentric self and to put on the new self (Ephesians 4:24). Our real and authentic self is hidden in Christ and “In Him we live and move and exist.” (Acts 17:28a, NASB). As we are transformed into Christ through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, we shall again know ourselves as we are known. This is living the born again life with access to Christ who is the vine and the tree of life. Amen