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  • Writer's pictureBishop Mesrop Parsamyan

Missing the Mark

Missing the mark iLooys

The second Sunday of Great Lent is called Sunday of the Expulsion. It recalls the drama, which happened at the dawn of human history: Adam and Eve's rebellion in Eden, namely the SIN of disobedience in consuming from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

In the Bible, the word used for SIN is “Hamartia,” an archery term for “missing the mark.” Sin is not just making an error in judgment in a particular case, but missing the whole point of human life; not just the violation of a law, but an insult to a relationship with the One to whom we owe everything; not just a servant's failure to carry out a master's orders, but the ingratitude of a child to its parent.

Originally man was made to be the created image of God, to live in union with God’s divine life, and to rule over all creation. Man’s failure in this task is his sin, which has also been called his fall.

The “fall” of man means that man failed in his God-given vocation. This is the meaning of Genesis 3. Man was seduced by evil (the serpent) into believing that he could be “like God” by his own will and effort.

The “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is generally interpreted as man’s actual taste of evil, his literal experience of evil as such. Sometimes, this eating is also interpreted (as by Saint Gregory the Theologian) as man’s attempt to go beyond what was possible for him; his attempt to do that which was not yet within his power to realize.

Whatever the details of the various interpretations of the Genesis story, it is the clear doctrine of the Church that man has failed in his original vocation and was expelled from the Garden. He disobeyed God’s command through pride, jealousy and the lack of humble gratitude to God by yielding to the temptation of Satan.

Thus Adam and Eve’s first mistake was to disobey God’s commandment. They transgressed the Law of God (see 1 Jn 3.4). They sinned, “missed the mark” of their calling.

The second mistake was not to take responsibility for it. When God asked Adam why he ate of the fruit, Adam blamed it on Eve. Adam blamed even God because he said that God gave Eve to him, “the woman whom You gave to be with me.” (Genesis 3:12) When God asked Eve why she ate of the fruit, she blamed it on the serpent.

Neither one of them said, “It was my fault.” Neither one of them said, “I was wrong.” Lastly, neither one of them said, “God have mercy on me, please forgive me.” Neither Adam nor Eve truly confessed and repented, and that's why they were expelled from the garden of Eden.

Repentance and confession are the pathways back to Eden, back to Paradise, back to communion with God. God is ready and willing to forgive us if we repent and confess, if we forgive each other. We cannot access, we cannot experience God’s forgiveness if, when things break down, whether physically, mentally or emotionally, we start pointing fingers at everyone else. “It’s because of her/him. She/He made me do it.”

Translated and adapted from diverse sources.

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