My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The Book of Genesis telling us about the creation gives us also a deep intuition into what happened in the Paradise. God said to Adam: ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’ A number of times I have been asked why God did not want people to have knowledge of good and evil. How can we discern what we do or what we want to do, if we don’t know what is good and evil? Well, knowledge of good and evil in the Genesis doesn’t mean the possession of information, like knowing the content of a book or the ingredients of a cake. It is not like knowing that smoking causes lung cancer or that by taking drugs one becomes a drug addict. The fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil meant the right to decide what is good and evil, not to discern it in light of God’s word. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, drawing from the Scriptures and from our saints who reflected on it, says that ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil evokes the insurmountable limits that man, being a creature, must freely recognise and respect with trust. Man is dependent on his creator, and subject to the laws of creation and the moral norms that govern the use of freedom.’ As God’s children we don’t decide what is good and evil. We discern what is good and evil in light of God’s revelation.
Why do we treasure the event from the beginning of human existence about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Because people still fall into the trap of the devil who promises them ‘to be like God’ and they still copy the sin of Adam and Eve when they claim a right to autonomously decide what is evil and what is good. Think about the activists and law makers who say that is OK to abort innocent babies. Think about the activists and law makers who say that marriage can be redefined. Think about the activists and law makers who justify murdering the elderly and the handicapped. What I find most shocking is their euphoria and taking pleasure in the extinction of the living. It doesn’t reflect the goodness and love of God.
Recently Pope Francis has spoken about modern practices, like abortion as ‘the white glove equivalent of the Nazi eugenics programme’ when hundreds of thousands of people were forcibly sterilized and killed in attempt to ‘clean’ the chain of heredity of those with physical or mental disabilities. Already in 1995 Saint John Paul II wrote prophetically in his encyclical letter Evangelium vitae: ‘We are facing an enormous clash between good and evil, death and life, the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life.’ We find ourselves not only ‘faced with’ but necessarily ‘in the midst of’ this conflict: we are all involved and we share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life’ because God is pro-life. God ‘loves the living.’
These days when on one hand people frantically attempt to erase the thought of death and on the other hand they build the culture of death we turn to the Risen Lord. Jesus entered death trusting his Father’s promises. We saw him in the midst of the crowd where a woman whose life was fading away was able to approach him. We saw him in the house of Jair where death reigned. We are also powerfully sustained in our faith by Jesus’ own stepping into the domain of death on Good Friday. From there, from the domain of death, from the extreme culture of death, he was raised by the power of the Spirit.
The culture of death doesn’t have the last word because the last word belongs to Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and the living one. That’s why we don’t succumb to the trendy views in our society but pray as Jesus taught us to pray: ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ Doing God’s will gives us life, true life here on earth and the eternal life in the world to come.