“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’” (Gen 3: 8-10)

In “The Fall,” Adam and Eve changed their focus; they turned away from God’s Way of doing and knowing things, and decided to pursue their own. And this decision, to rely and focus on themselves, in pursuit of a way and a knowledge without God, leads them to fear. Self-reliance leads us to fear, because in self-reliance, we realize (sooner or later) that our own, human shoulders are insufficient to carry all “the knowledge of good and evil” of our world. From the beginning, God wanted to carry us through our “education,” in His Way, and in His time, that we would not be broken by attempting it outside of Him.

But once we did go ahead and break from Him, God intervenes, first, not by taking away our chosen, self-inflicted pain of “the knowledge of good and evil,” but by distracting us from it, by sending us out of paradise to experience other forms of suffering, like hard work (Gen 3: 17-19) and child-bearing (Gen 3: 16), which He makes rewarding and even healing for us. And by introducing us to these forms of suffering, which He makes “productive” for us, God prepares us for the next part of His “intervention” into our self-inflicted suffering, which is to send us His only-begotten Son, to share in it and overcome it. Christ takes upon His shoulders that whole “Tree,” making it not only rewarding and healing, but entirely re-defining it, as salvific for us, when we choose to participate in His cross-carrying Way. Moreover, He “sabotages” the chosen symbol of the Enemy of our Salvation, of “the serpent in the tree,” by elevating Himself onto it, as did the “serpent” in the garden (cf. Jn 3: 14-15). In Christ, we no longer need to fear, either the serpent or the tree, because in Christ we can grow and gain true “knowledge,” nay, New Life, by walking through our pain and not avoiding it, on the Way of the Cross.

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