Faithful hold candles during Readings, including the story of Creation, during the Easter Vigil in Trenton's Cathedral. Craig Pittelli photo  
Faithful hold candles during Readings, including the story of Creation, during the Easter Vigil in Trenton's Cathedral. Craig Pittelli photo  

Good and evil are deeply rooted in humankind; they coexist.  When God created the world, however, Scripture tells us, “God looked at everything he had made and found it very good (Genesis 1: 31).”  

How did evil originate?  The Book of Genesis goes on to talk about the “Garden of Eden” and a tree growing there “in the middle of the garden,” the fruit of which bore knowledge of “good and evil” for those who ate it.  It was, according to the author, a cunning serpent in the garden who introduced this knowledge to the man and woman God created, despite his clear direction to them not to eat the fruit of the tree.  They succumbed to the serpent’s temptation, and God banished them from the garden.  Evil entered the world.

That is the story of creation told in the Book of Genesis.  Its details and meaning have been debated by scholars and theologians for thousands of years.

In the simplest of terms, evil originated with a human decision to do other than what God intended, to think and choose and act in a way contrary to God’s purpose for us.  Such a decision was possible because of the nature of the human being, created by God with intellect and free will, aspects that distinguish humans from every other creature that God had made.  The intellect enables a human being to know the intentional goodness inherent in God’s creation, and free will enables a human being to act in accord with that goodness, to do what a human being should or ought to do.  

God is all good and the source of all good.  When the human being attempted to know other than the goodness God intended in creation and freely willed and chose that “otherness,” evil entered human experience.  God’s intention was contradicted.  Christian tradition calls that contradiction “sin.”  As a result, humanity has struggled with good and evil/sin in the world since the “origin” of that contradiction.

This is, indeed, a simple explanation.  But, no matter how we understand or explain the origin and existence of evil/sin, God did not give up or abandon his creation or human beings within it.  God did not stop loving his creation or human beings within it. God showed mercy.  We read in the Gospel, “God so loved the world that he sent his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but may have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him will not be condemned... (John 3: 16-18).”

Christians throughout the world have just celebrated the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Son of God, the ultimate proof of God’s love and mercy for us through the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, despite our sins.  That is our Easter faith.  And upon the rock of this Easter faith, the Lord Jesus built his Church to constantly remind us of his love and mercy and grace, because of our sins.

St. Paul reminds us, “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more (Romans 5: 20).”  That is why we can never lose our faith and hope in the Lord Jesus when we confront evil/sin, even at our own hands.  And we cannot give up on one another in the Church.