The last verse before the biblical account of the Fall is the rather candid statement, “both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame” (Gen. 2:25). I always thought that was simply stating the obvious; namely, that they did not have on any clothing. It was from John Paul II’s Theology of the Body that I was first reminded that I had, perhaps, not read the text deeply enough. To say that Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed is about more than the lack of clothing. It is about the reason we clothe ourselves in the first place. Before the Fall we had both interior and exterior vision. In other words, before the Fall, we could see someone’s outward features and expressions, etc., but we also had interior vision: we could see someone’s heart. Adam and Eve knew each other’s hearts. They knew one another, as we would say colloquially, ‘inside and out.” That is what it meant to “know” someone. After the Fall, the first thing they did was to sew fig leaves together and make loincloths for themselves because they became aware of their nakedness (Gen. 3:7). Once sin and shame enter the world we start hiding ourselves. We do not want our interior lives to be known. Clothing is just the beginning of all the ways we mask our interior lives. We “cover ourselves” with clothing, with well-paying jobs, with nice homes, expensive cars, jewelry, and the list goes on and on.
The gospel is about re-establishing our primordial nakedness, in the biblical sense of that word. When Jesus comes he re-establishes that interior sight. He knows what we are thinking. He sees our hearts. We cannot hide from him. This is the kind of open vulnerability which God is building in His church. God showed us the way in Jesus Christ. When God came to us that first Christmas he laid aside all of his glory. He left behind His throne. He left behind the eternal worship of the cherubim, the seraphim and the four living creatures. He left behind the eternal “hallelujah chorus” which cries “holy, holy, holy.” He came as a helpless baby, lying in a manger. The amazing thing is that we discovered through the incarnation the very interior life of God himself. We saw his heart. We saw his love. We saw what we are all called to be: naked before God and one another, i.e. living a life of transparency and openness before God and others in a way which astounds the world.
May each and every reader of this blog have a blessed Advent as we remember anew the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into the world.