No matter what her other virtues, a generous nature, a gift for hospitality, beauty, intelligence, culinary expertise, an excellent wife to her husband or mother to her children, a community leader, nothing makes a woman more extraordinary than her faith. This was true in the times of revelation from God to us and it still applies today in the life of the New Testament Israel.
The extraordinary mother demonstrates this big truth by exploring the way that many women in salvation history still offer extraordinary lessons for mothers today. Not all mothers in Scripture are unwavering examples of godly virtue; in fact most of them have significant flaws. But they all are distinguished by their faith, or in some cases, their abysmal lack of it. Most of the mothers we read about in God's revelation to us in Scripture are mothers by birth. A few are mothers by behavior. We know many of them waited long years for our heavenly Father to grant them children. Some raised children of great faith, others were painfully disappointed. Some great mothers are even unnamed. But all of them can teach us something valuable about what makes a women, particularly a mother, truly extraordinary. Think and pray with us today as our nation fittingly honors its mothers as we practice some introspection on "...the mother of all the living" Genesis 3: 20, Eve.
Eve must have been a creature of unsurpassed beauty. She was the crown and pinnacle of God's amazing creative work, the last living thing to be called into existence, actually fashioned directly by the Creator's own loving hand in a way that showed particular attention lavished with detail.
By the direct reference of God, Adam was refined dirt; Eve was a glorious refinement of humanity itself. She was Adam's necessary partner who finally made his existence complete and whose own life finally signaled the completion of all creation. In woman is humanity totalized and completed.
If the man represented the supreme species, a race of creatures made in the image of God, the Creator, Eve was the living embodiment of humanity's glory. "A man, on the other hand, ought not to cover his head, because he is the image of God and the reflection of his glory. Woman, in turn, is the reflection of man's glory" 1 Corinthians 11: 7. In this we see God saving the very best for the last.
Eve is the flawless archetype of feminine excellence. Because no other woman has ever come into a curse-free world, no other woman could possibly surpass Eve's grace, charm, virtue, ingenuity, intelligence, wit and pure innocence. Physically, too, she must have personified all the best traits of both strength, beauty and endurance. Scripture gives us no physical description of Eve. Her beauty - splendid as it must have been - is never mentioned or even alluded to. The focus of the biblical account is on Eve's relationships with her Creator and her husband.
As "...the mother of all living" Genesis 3: 20, Eve is a major character in the story of the fall of humanity and its inevitable redemption. Yet in all of Scripture, her name is used only four times -twice in the Old Testament (Genesis 3: 20; 4: 1) and twice in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11: 3; 1 Timothy 2: 13). No only is no physical description of her provided, we do not even know such details as how many actual children she had; how long she lived, or where and how she finally succumbed to the death she introduced into the world although she was created without being bound by its law. "Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when he begot a son in his likeness, after his image; and he named him Seth. Adam lived eight hundred years after the birth of Seth, and he had other sons and daughters. The whole lifetime of Adam was nine hundred and thirty years; then he died" Genesis 5: 3 - 5.
The creation of Eve reminds us of several crucial truths about motherhood in general. It speaks of Eve's fundamental equality with Adam. The woman was "taken out of man" Genesis 2: 23. She was of exactly the same essence as Adam. She was in no way of inferior character, but she was his spiritual counterpart, his intellectual coequal, and in every sense his perfect mate and companion, worthy to be his wife and the mother of common children. Her creation also reminds us of the essential unity that is the ideal of every marital relationship, and it illustrates how deeply and meaningful the marriage of husband and wife is designed to be. It is not merely a physical union, but a union of heart and soul as well. The intimacy of her relationship with her husband is rooted in the fact that she was literally actually taken from his side, so she is one with him.
The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, or out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected and near his heart be his beloved.
Eve's creation also contains some important heavenly lessons about the divinely destined role of women as mothers. Although Eve was spiritually and intellectually the peer of Adam, although they were both of one essence and therefore equals in their standing before God, and in their rank above all other creatures, there is nonetheless a clear distinction in their earthly roles. Adam is destined by our heavenly Father to be a father, provider, protector, and leader. Eve is designed to be a mother, comforter, nurturer, and assistive helper. To acknowledge that there are such fundamental differences between the sexes may not correspond with modernist skewed feminist sensibilities, but this is in fact the reality of creation and the sum total of understanding God's Word revealed to us.
After creation and before the fall, Adam and Eve were partners and companions, fellow laborers in the garden. God dealt with Adam as head of the human race, and Eve as accountable to her husband. This was true in paradise and they constituted a perfect microcosm of the human race as God designed it to be.
But then it was all ruined by sin. The chronology of the account seems to suggest that a very short time elapsed between the end of Creation (Genesis 1: 31) and the fall of Satan (Isaac 14: 12 - 15; Ezekiel 28: 12 - 19). A similarly short time appears to have elapsed between the fall of satan and Eve's temptation. It might have been only a few days, or perhaps even only a matter of hours. But it could not have been very long. Adam and Eve had not yet even conceived any children. The tempter wasted no time deceiving Eve and provoking her husband to sin as well. He wanted to strike and make a victory for himself before the race had any opportunity to multiply and increase. If he could beguile Eve and thereby cause Adam to fall at this moment, he could sabotage all of humanity in one deadly act of rebellious treason against our heavenly Father.
Satan singled out Eve for his cunning deception when she was not in the company of Adam. Away from her husband, but close to the forbidden tree, she was in the most vulnerable position possible. It is likely that Eve heard about God's only restriction not directly from God, but from her husband, but it is recorded, "The Lord gave the man this order, "You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat of it, you are surely doomed to die"' Genesis 2: 16, 17. This prohibition was given just before her creation, at a time when Adam must have been the lone recipient of its treasure, but Eve's instruction and her protection were Adam's responsibility, but satan found her alone and apparently without accurate understanding of what God expected of both of them. Eve succumbed in her gullibility. Adam was not the leader he had been called to be; he was not the head of the household or family as his vocation prescribed; he did not exercise his teaching office, so he was a failure in the eyes of all mankind. Fathers should be aware and must learn how vital their role in family life is; if they do not exercise it, a void is created and there is no one else who can fill it, although silly women many times attempt to become men in the family because men don't live up to their heavenly challenge. Family life is then thus damaged. Look at what this first event in creation history led to!
Eve was deceived. She told herself "...that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise" Genesis 3: 6. Notice the natural desires that contributed to Eve's confusion; her bodily appetites as it was good for food; her esthetic sensibilities, as it was pleasant to the eye; and the intellectual curiosity as it would enhance her wisdom. Of course she never considered in her innocence, that it would make her aware of the subtleties of evil. All that she considered was good, legitimate, healthy, unless the object of desire is sinful and then natural passion becomes evil lust. That can never result in any good. Eve ate and then she gave her husband to eat. And we wonder why fasting is important. When Eve should have fasted, she did not!
Even though Eve was deceived into eating the forbidden fruit - rather than acting out of deliberate disobedience - her sin and transgression still subjected her to God's displeasure and pushed her out of the garden into the fatalities of the world. No matter what means satan may use to beguile us into sin, no matter how subtle his cunning, the responsibility for the deed itself still lies with the sinner and no one else. Eve could not escape accountability for what she had done by transferring blame as easily as she did. "The serpent tricked me into it, so I did it" Genesis 3: 13.
That accountability resulted in serious ramifications that women struggle with even to this day. God placed a curse on Eve. "I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children. Yet your urge shall be for your husband and he shall be your master" Genesis 3: 16. These deal with the two most important relationships in which a woman might naturally seek her highest joy, fulfillment and satisfaction: her husband and her children. In a fallen world, sadness, pain and physical difficulties would be part and parcel of woman's daily routine. In childbirth, however, the pain and sorrow would be greatly multiplied. The bearing of children, which originally had the potential to bring the most undiluted kind of joy and gladness, would instead be marred by severe pain and difficulty. The second part of the verse is a little harder to interpret: "Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you." Before Adam sinned, his leadership was always perfectly wise and loving, tender and to be trusted. Before Eve sinned, her submission was the perfect model of meekness and modesty. But sin changed all that. She would now chaff under his headship and desire to gain dominance over him. His tendency would be to suppress her in a harsh and domineering, even demeaning way. And thus we see that tensions over sexual roles go all the way back to our first parents.
The severity of the curse must have shattered the heart of Eve, but God's judgment was not entirely harsh and hopeless. There was a good deal of grace, even in the curse. To the eyes of faith, there were rays of hope that shone even through the cloud of God's displeasure.
Although their relationship would now have the tensions that did not exist in
The promise that Eve would still bear children mitigated every other aspect of the curse. The one simple expectation contained a ray of hope for the entire human race. There was a hint in the curse itself that one of Eve's offspring would ultimately overthrow evil and dispel all the darkness of sin. Eve had set a whole world of evil in motion by her disobedience; now through her offspring she would produce a Saviour to deliver mankind from it. Just as all parents desire to leave an inheritance for their descendants, all that was left for Adam and Eve to leave their children was an empty promise. They had abandoned their familiar friendship with God; so their heirs, their children would have none of it. What was intended for the children was needlessly and carelessly profligately lost. Thus we are not born rightful inheritors of the eternal kingdom, but must be baptized to gain entrance into the heavenly paradise which is by destiny rightfully ours.
The powerful hope, however, is already given to her, in the portion of the curse where the Lord addresses the evil spirit indwelling the snake "I will put enmity... .between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel" Genesis 3: 15. Eve must have taken heart from this guarantee that her race would not be hopelessly subordinated to the domination of the evil one forever. The curse against satan the serpent held promise for Eve; her own offspring would destroy the destroyer.
Christ who is uniquely "born of a woman" Galatians 4: 4, the offspring of a virgin, and actual God in human form, literally fulfills his promise that the Seed of the woman would break the serpent's head. It is clear that the hope of Eve is personified in her own children. She sees them as tokens of God's goodness and reminders of the promise that her Seed would be the instrument by which the tempter's ultimate destruction is accomplished. For instance, in her great joy on becoming a mother, Eve says, "I have acquired a man from the Lord" Genesis 4: 1. In was an expression of hope and rejoicing because of Gods' grace, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness toward her. When Eve bore Seth, after Cain had already broken her heart by murdering Abel, Scripture says, she "...named him Seth meaning `appointed one,' for "God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed" Genesis 4: 25.
The reference to the "appointed seed" suggests that her heart had laid hold of the promise concealed in the curse and that she treasured the undying hope that one day her own Seed would fill the God promise.
As we meditate on the riches in the life of the first mother, Eve, we impart a blessing on all mothers that you imbue your children with love of their Creator, joy in his unique role for them and faith that will guide them safely into blessed life beyond the curse. A happy and joyful Mothers' Day celebration with your loved ones to all in our faith community parish.