My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The first reading from the Book of Genesis showed us some disorder which was diagnosed a long time before anyone even thought about FASD. The Church in light of the revelation brought by Jesus Christ named the disorder as original sin.
St Paul in the Letter to the Romans summarised it in a personal way: ‘Though the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not, with the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want.’ In the testimony of the Apostle we can also find our own experience, can’t we?
That’s interior all torn-up is also an evidence that our soul is longing for God who from the beginning of creation wanted a harmony between him and us, the harmony which was also to preserve and nurture the harmony within us and the harmony between us his sons and daughters.
The Baltimore Catechism, which for a long time nurtured Catholic Faith in the people of US, acknowledged it all is a precise sentence: ‘Our nature was corrupted by the sin of our first parents, which darkened our understanding, weakened our will, and left in us a strong inclination to evil.’
Let me quote a passage from St Gregory of Nyssa, a Church father from and early centuries of Christianity. St Gregory wrote: ‘Evil was mixed with our nature from the beginning… through those who by their disobedience introduced the disease. Just as in the natural propagation of the species each animal engenders its like, so a human being is born from a human being, a being subject to passions from being subject to passions, a sinner from a sinner. Thus sin takes its rise in us as we are born; it grows with us and keeps us company till life’s term.’ That’s why when a reporter who was interviewing Pope Francis after the conclave asked the Holy Father: ‘Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?’ The Pope answered: ‘I am a sinner.’ Some people interpreted it as a sign of humility however his admission was predominantly the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Admitting being a sinner the Pope pointed out to Jesus Christ who has power to set us free. At the end of the conclave in 2013 when he was asked whether he was willing to accept the election, Cardinal Bergoglio answered: ‘I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
As we listened to the First Reading showing us the situation of our first parents after the Fall we also heard the Good News which God announced in the midst of that tragic, sinful moment. These were God’s words to the Satan: ‘I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head and you will strike its heel.’ By these words God promised to the first parents that there would be a new woman, the Immaculate Virgin Mary, who would bring into the world the only Begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, so that people could have recourse to him.
That’s why filled with faith in Jesus we don’t say: ‘God, that’s how we were born so don’t expect any change.’ Instead following the example of many Christians we repeat the words of St Paul, who while admitting his sinful condition also professed: ‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.’
In Jesus Christ, we find grace to say Yes to God and to put it into practice. Even if we fall many times we believe that it is worth getting up many times too. Because of those many times when we get up after falling into sin we treasure the image of Jesus from today’s Gospel who looking around said: ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.’ Doing God’s will is not easy but with the grace of Jesus we believe that it is worth not giving up.