In today’s readings we have two different ways of approaching God, with two different outcomes.
In our first reading, we have the story of the fall of humanity from Genesis, the first book in the Bible. Over the past week, we have heard the stories of creation: how God created the world, the universe, and everything in them. The most glorious of all his creation was the creation of man and woman, the first humans, the only part of creation that was made in God’s image and likeness, the ones for which God created everything else that he created. All of his creation was good; it had to be made good so that it would be good enough for the people he created in love, to love.
And we know the story: the minute God leaves the people to themselves to explore the world in all its wonder, they eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. They are tempted by the devil who had to absolutely hate the goodness of creation, because the devil never loves anything, let alone anything good. So he works against the people and against God and convinces the woman, and she the man, that they should have something they weren’t supposed to have. He made them desire it more than anything, even though God had given them everything they need and then some.
When we think about it, it almost seems unfair, right? I mean, what’s the big deal about eating some fruit? Why was that so bad? Here’s the problem with it. The devil made them want something that wasn’t God. The people had everything: a place in paradise, and a loving relationship with God. But the devil convinced them to want a piece of fruit more than they wanted that loving relationship with God. And ever since, we have been doing that. God still wants us and makes us in love. But we so often turn away because we want something more than we want that loving relationship with God.
Now, look at the Gospel. The people bring Jesus a man that was suffering for a long time. He had a speech impediment and couldn’t say anything, let alone give praise to God. But he turned to God instead of turning away, and he received the gift of speech. And with that healing, with that gift of speech, his relationship with God became more than it ever was. Even though Jesus asked him not to, his new voice couldn’t stop praising God!
Friends, for way too long, we have wanted stuff more than we have wanted God. But if we would get it right and give ourselves to him, he might just heal us and give us a voice that can proclaim love, and peace, and grace, and healing, and justice, and joy – a voice that praises God and brings nothing but grace and healing to our hurting world. So Lent starts next Wednesday, right? What better time than Lent to think about what it is that we have been wanting more than we want God. And then turn from that pain and let Jesus touch our tongue and give us grace to do more than we ever could on our own.
God made us for paradise, and we have to stop wanting to live broken lives, let Jesus heal us, and go into the world telling everyone what he has done for us. Jesus has done all things well: he has made the deaf hear and the mute speak. He wants to give us the voice we need to make our world better than ever. We just have to let him.