Thursday, December 8, 2011

Remember How Good You Are - True, Authentic Human Nature

Homily from the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

You've all heard the phrase: “Boys will be boys."  It's often used when boys are misbehaving.  Similar phrases are: “They’re only human.” “It’s just human nature.”  Which are often used when describing human failings.

Both of these statements imply a human nature that is often viewed as inherently flawed or failed.  However, truth to be told, our true, authentic human nature is not flawed or failed.  True, authentic human nature is good.

To understand true, authentic human nature, we have to go back to the beginning to see human nature as God originally created it.

In today’s first reading, we hear about a flawed and failed human nature.  After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, the Lord God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” 

The very question itself, “Where are you?”, suggests that mankind is lost.  Adam has no direction. He is disoriented; because he is no longer oriented towards God.

Adam answers: “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid because I was naked so I hid myself.”  Listen to how Adam describes himself: “I was afraid,” “I was naked,” “I hid myself.”  Language riddled with shame and guilt.

God points out, “You have eaten, then, from the tree.”  And Adam immediately responds, “The woman whom you put here with me, she gave me the fruit from the tree.”  Shame turns into blame.  "Boys will be boys" right?

So God asks Eve, “Why did you do such a thing?”  Eve follows the example of her husband, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”  “The devil made me do it!”  “They’re only human” right? “Just human nature” right?

No. This isn’t true, authentic human nature.  To find it, we have to go back even further. 

Listen to the first words of today’s reading, “After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree” things went terribly wrong.  Which means before the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, things were very good.  Before the fall, Genesis says, “The man and the wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.”  They live in harmony with one another.  They live in friendship with God.  They are free from sin; or, another way of putting it: they are full of grace, immaculately conceived.

Sound like someone you know?

This is Mary.  Living in harmony with mankind.  Living in friendship with God.  Free from sin; or, as the angel Gabriel puts it: full of grace, immaculately conceived.

Mary reveals to us God’s original design for true, authentic human nature.

Here’s the point: who we really are, who God created us to be more closely resembles the immaculately conceived Virgin Mary than it does fallen Adam and Eve.

“Boys will be boys” or “They’re only human”, and the negative aspects those phrases imply, present a false view of human nature.

Here’s the further and ultimate point: we are good. You are good!  That’s how God created you. 

When God created everything, Genesis says that He saw how good it was.   He creates the water and the sky. God saw how good it was.  God creates the plants and vegetation. God saw how good it was.  God creates the sun, the moon and the stars; the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the animals on land. God saw how good it was.

But then God creates mankind, male and female. You know what He saw. Not just how good it was. But how very good it was.  In Genesis we read, “God looked at everything He had made, and he found it very good.”

Everything He had made.  That includes you.  We are not just good. We are very good.

A friend of mine shared with me something his priest would always tell teenagers at the end of their youth group meetings, and I want to share it with you today: "Remember how good you are."

I will frequently tell people that: "Remember how good you are."  And I will get looks sometimes as if I’m crazy.  Many times people cannot accept it: that you are good.  Because we’ve bought into the false notion of human nature: that we’re fallen and failures.  We’ve forgotten who we are.

That’s why we have to remember how good we are.  We have to remember how God made us, before the fall.  That we’re very good – that’s true, authentic human nature.

Now, do we sin? Of course. We’re even inclined to sin.  But at the core of our being, we are good.  Because God made us that way and God doesn’t make mistakes.

Listen to St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians from our second reading: “He [God] chose us in Him [Jesus], before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.”  You were chosen by God to be holy and without blemish.

Sound like someone you know?

“You were chosen by the Father, you were chosen for the Son.”

Who you really are, more closely resembles the immaculately conceived Virgin Mary than the fallen Adam & Eve.  Become who you were meant to be by imitating the live of Mary, the Immaculate Conception.  Let the Holy Spirit come upon you. Let the power of the Most High overshadow you.  Let the new life of Jesus Christ be conceived in you.  Become a handmaid, a servant, of the Lord through obedience to Him as Mary was obedient.  In the simple, everyday tasks and challenges of life; follow the will of God always.  And let it be done to you according to His word.

Then, you will know lasting happiness and peace even in difficult times.

Then you will discover your true, authentic human nature.

Then, you will remember how good you are.

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