Last week we saw that the reason why we need mercy is because we are sinners. St. Paul tells the Ephesians, “we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…” (Eph 2:3b-5) We are by nature “children of wrath”, that means that by nature (original sin) we deserve God’s wrath; his punishment. But God, in his mercy, makes us alive again. We are sinners in need of mercy because of original sin. So the reason why we need mercy is rooted in the Genesis “fall” narrative.
After Adam and Eve eat from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they are ashamed and they hide. God then, while walking in the garden calls for them: “Where are you?”
As a teenager, I spent a lot of time listening to Christian singer and songwriter Don Francisco. One of his songs is “Adam, Where Are You?”
Unashamed and naked in a garden that has never seen the rain,
Rulers of a kingdom, full of joy — never marred by any pain,
The morning all around them seems to celebrate the life they’ve just begun;
And in the majesty of innocence the king and queen come walking in the sun
But the master of deception now begins with his dissection of the Word
And with all of his craft and subtlety the serpent twists the simple truths they’ve heard,
While hanging in the balance is a world that has been placed at their command
And all their unborn children die as both of them bow down to Satan’s hand.
And just before the evening in the cool of the day, they hear the voice of God as He is walking
And they can’t abide His presence, so they try to hide away;
But still they hear the sound as He is calling:
“Adam, Adam, where are you?
In the stifling heat of summer now the gardener and his wife are in the field
And it seems that thorns and thistles are the only crop his struggles ever yield
He eats his meals in sorrow ’til he sinks into the dust whence he came
But all down through the ages he can hear his Maker calling out his name.
“Adam, Adam, where are you?
And though the curse has long been broken Adams’ sons are still the prisoners of their fears
Rushing helter skelter to destruction with their fingers in their ears
While the Father’s voice is calling with an urgency I’ve never heard before
“Won’t you come in from the darkness now before it’s time to finally close the door!”
“Adam, Adam, where are you?
Adam, Adam, I love you!”
(Adam, Where Are You? by Don Francisco. From He’s Alive. Rocky Mountain Ministries © 1977)
Don Francisco’s song summarises Genesis 2 and 3 quite succinctly. He hits all the main points of the story: There’s a garden where there is no pain or disorder, where the rulers (Adam and Eve) walk around not knowing shame. In the garden there is a deceiver that “twists” the simple truths that the “king and queen” of the garden have heard. Sadly, they bow down to the deceiver, who is Satan, and bring death and sin into the world, a state that will be passed on to all generations to come.
For Don Francisco, the climax of the story is God’s question, “where are you?” Musically, the feeling is that of desperate longing, almost sad – a parent searching for a lost child in the midst of a multitude. But this God/parent does not give up. Even though Adam’s sons are “still the victims of their fears” and are “running to destruction with their fingers in their ears”, the Father’s voice is calling with unrestrained urgency, “where are you? Come in from the darkness! I love you.” This is the story of the prodigal son, the story of the lost sheep, of the widow looking for her lost coin, the story of the Hound of Heaven, the story of Mercy; the story of Salvation.
Don Francisco infuses the Garden of Eden story with a salvific message, a message of Mercy, redemption and of hope. I would love to ask Don Francisco about his lyrics and message, because it is clear by the text of some of his other songs that this message of God’s Mercy is resonant in his ministry. He has a song titled, “I Don’t Care Where You’ve Been Sleeping” that says:
And although you’ve chosen darkness with its miseries and fears,
Although you’ve gone so far from Me and wasted all those years
Even though my name’s been spattered by the mire in which you lie
I’d take you back this instant if you’d turn to Me and cry.
I don’t care where you’ve been sleeping, I don’t care who’s made your bed
I already gave My life to set you free;
There’s no sin you could imagine that is stronger than my love,
And it’s all yours if you’ll come home again to Me.
(I Don’t Care Where You’ve Been Sleeping by Don Francisco. From He’s Alive. Rocky Mountain Ministries © 1977)
This is the message of “Ayeka?” God does not need to know where we are. He knows. But we need to know where we are. God gives us the opportunity, as He gave Adam and Eve, to come clean, to tell him where we are, to come up with a “speech from the Throne”, or a “state of the union” address, to see where we are: where we came from and where we are going. Creation and disorder, Grace and fall, are not moments that happened in a garden long ago, they happen to us daily, as God continues to create us and save us through his Mercy.
Come back next week to see what all this means in our own daily life.
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:firstname.lastname@example.org