THE ANCIENT PROMISE FULFILLED
The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Genesis 3:14-15
THE holy Offspring of Eve entered creation as a man in order to be our brother and Savior. The devil entered as a snake in order to recruit humanity in his rebellion, but the holy Offspring of Eve and of the Virgin would not have it so! The devil became "incarnate" in order to steal, to kill and to destroy, to transmogrify men, to change them from reflections of their beautiful Creator into monsters capable of any treachery. However Jesus became incarnate to crush the devil's head and to give us abundant life, to bear humanity's fall, and to divert the consequences away from us and toward Himself. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the fiery, protracted and shameful death of the cross. That is where the reckoning took place, under the cover of black darkness so that no eye should behold the awful transaction.
We know how our Lord became man. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and in due time born of the Virgin Mary, but we don't know how the devil assumed snake-hood. We are simply presented with the accomplished fact. Many people dislike snakes but the Lord God made them just as he did the other beasts of the field, however we learn in Genesis that the snake was more crafty than all the rest, that he was a persuasive, silver-tongued orator, and he surely must have been because this Holy Family was not the easy prey people often assume by a simple reading of the text.
We know from Genesis chapters one and two that our first parents were wonderfully fashioned by the immortal, invisible, only-wise God, and what greater lineage could anyone claim than that? We learn, too, that these dusty creatures were then inspired with the breath of God, endowed with a living soul and made fleshly manifestations of the glorious Lord. As children are an expression of their parents, Eve and Adam were likenesses of their God, and even now in our present fallen condition every human life is precious to God. Though people might behave like beasts, they are not beasts. Though many are craftier than Satan himself, there is none that is beyond the scope of the redemption that is by faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. The most hardened criminal can repent. The most self-absorbed narcissist can turn. The sanctimonious person who thinks she has no need of repentance, who thinks she has things all figured out, even she can be penitent because Scripture announces: today is the day of salvation! We know, too, that Eve and Adam were charged by God to be the parents of the human race; that this venerable couple was to multiply and to fill the vast, pristine planet with others like themselves, with countless Adams and Eves. We know that they were commanded to dominate creation and to bring all things under their control: the birds of the air, the fish of the sea and every living thing on the earth, and no one gives such a charge to fools!
No Eve and Adam were no fools, but shrewd and gifted nobles taught from God's own mouth, however the snake was more cunning yet, so while our first parents were able to fall from grace, they were not capable of rising up again. For that, a New Adam was required, and for that a New Adam is given!
In Milton's famous poem, Paradise Regained, salvation is accomplished at the conclusion of the Lord's temptation in the wilderness. Now we know that His death and resurrection are the epicenter of salvation, but Milton's instincts are good. He reasons that if Jesus could conquer Satan in the wilderness under the greatest possible handicap, that he could also endure the cross and grave as well. Then he could crush the devil, pulverize death and deliver redemption to those who need it the most. We are those people.
However redemption is not just an interior affair but an exterior one as well. In baptism, all the benefits that the New Adam obtained for us by His sacrifice are imparted to us. We rise from the font as "children of salvation," rescued from the dominion of darkness, and transferred into the kingdom of God's own dear Son. We are given enlightened minds so as to recognize the devil's lies for what they are, and skill to resist his temptations, so don't be fooled by the world's catechism, because whatever culture praises as good is usually bad, and whatever it promotes as right is usually wrong. St Paul says it like this, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your reasonable worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will."
And what is His will? That you should do what the New Adam did. Do not put the Lord your God to the test, but trust in Him instead to uphold you in every trial. He will provide all that you need to emerge victorious, and give His holy angels to minister to you. Remember that man does not live by bread alone; and come to the Lord's table for as long as you have life and breath in you, for as long as you can claw your way to the rail, and when you no longer can then be certain that the altar will come to you. And finally worship the Lord your God and serve only him, who serves you with every good gift here in time and there in eternity. Amen
~ Rev. Dean Kavouras