Genesis iii. 21.

June 26, 2010

And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife, garments of skins, and clothed them.

21. “Garments of skins”

St. Chrysostom: “Just like a merciful father having a son gifted with a good nature, reared with every care, enjoying all delights, clothed with a shining silk garment, securely using his father’s riches, who, when he sees him fallen from such great good fortune into a precipice[1] of malice, takes everything from him, and subjects him to his power, strips him of his garment, and clothes him with a vile and servile garment, lest he be completely naked and disgraceful: in this way, because Adam and Eve had shown themselves unworthy of that glorious and shining garment with which they were clothed, and because He did not permit them to be at risk from bodily necessities – in this way the kind God stripped them naked of all that glory and enjoyment in which they had rejoiced before this heavy fall: and, showing great mercy towards them who had fallen into such wickedness, and seeing them surrounded by great shame, and destitute of counsel, He makes garments of skin for them, lest they be naked and unbecoming, and clothes them in them.  For such are the devil’s artifices: when he finds people who will obey him, he fools them with a certain small amount of pleasure, and then, having thrown them, full of every confusion and disgrace, into the depths of malice, leaves them to lie there, a miserable spectacle to all who see it.  But the Guardian of our souls, seeing them in such difficulties, does not despise the two placed in this state, but provides a covering for them, showing by the vile vestment the clothing of which they had made themselves worthy” (Homiliæ in Genesin, xviii. 1.).

St. Bede: “By a garment of this sort the Lord shows that they have already been made mortal; for skins, which can only be taken from dead beasts, contain a figure of death.[2] And so, because man sought to be like God, not by legitimate imitation but against the command and with forbidden pride, he is thrown down to the mortality of the beasts … and the Creator Himself by the sentence of just judgment took away their state of immutable life and sentenced them to the punishment of death in soul and body at once.  Now a parable in the Gospel tells how the holy father, when his son returned to him by penitence, among other luxurious gifts commanded that a magnificent robe be brought forth, and that he be clothed in it: this mystically suggests that the garment of immortality, which Adam lost at the beginning of the world, is to be received by the elect in Christ at the end of the world, and indeed in greater grace.  For Adam was made immortal in such a way that he was able not to die, if he kept the command; but the children of the resurrection will be immortal in such a way, that they will be unable to die, nor to be afflicted with the fear of death.  The Apostle says of the reception of this robe: For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality.[3] Here ‘to put on’ signifies without doubt that the nakedness that Adam recognized with shame in himself and Eve after their sin is taken away” (In Principium Genesis I col. 60).

[1] Lat. præcipitium, Gr. κρημνὸν.

[2] Cf. St. Thomas: “God made garments of skins for them as a sign of their mortality” (ST. IIa-IIae q. clxiv. a. ii.).

[3] 1 Cor. xv. 53.


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