A NEW TREE OF LIFE
“Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Gen 3: 20-24)
Both the man and the woman in this scene had wanted a good thing, “to be like God,” knowing good and evil. But they had decided to give this a try without Him, against His explicit commandment. They wanted “to be” and “to become” on their own, disregarding the Source of all “being,” God, Who alone “is the One Who is.” (Ex 3: 14) So they misused their God-given and God-like freedom to effect change.
At the center of the mystery of creation lies the simple yet unfathomable fact that He alone can make the difference between “Not Being” and “Being.” It is only with Him and in Him that we can “become” in the proper direction, toward Him, while the “serpent” can only lead us to various paths of “un-being”; of retreating from our intended purpose. The path of God-less change breaks us, because we can’t carry its consequences on our shoulders alone. When God notes with dismay, “See, the man has become like one of us,” He is noting the “wrong” kind of “becoming”; the man has exercised Our power, the power of the Triune God, to effect change in himself.
God remedies and turns around this “wrong” kind of “becoming” in the fulfilment of Salvation History, by becoming “One of us” in the Incarnation. He takes on the “knowledge” of our good and our evil, even unto utter abandonment and death, because only His shoulders are broad enough to carry it. As Creator, He does for us what we could not do for ourselves, and that is, “become” One with us. He gives us a new path, and a new Tree of Life, in His life-giving Cross. Let me let Him effect change in me today, as I take up His cross, that I may “become” and grow in His creative energies, toward the new unity He makes possible with Him and all creation.