Tree of Life from Barren Ground

Last Updated on October 18, 2022 by GMC

Russian icon of the Crucifixion by Dionysius, ca. 1500, Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow

5th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday (Year I)

Genesis 3:9-24

To the woman he said: 
I will intensify your toil in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.

Genesis 3:16

When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.

John 16:21-22

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:5

When the gates of Eden closed,
And day turned into night,
Darkness crept upon the earth
Without destroying Light.

Within the curse, a blessing
Foresaw the Woman’s Seed
Vanquishing the ancient foe,1
Not breaking a bruised reed.2

Eve’s desire for her husband—
Fair lover and just king—
Shall be requited fully3
With matrimonial ring.

Out of the accursed ground,
The Tree of Life shall rise.
Thorns and thistles shall sprout grace
Adam to divinize.

Eve’s travails will be transformed
As night turns into day.
Man of dust will rise from dust4
To God on the third day.


1 Christian tradition calls Genesis 3:15 the “protoevangelium,” the first gospel of a savior who will “bruise” (shuph) the serpent’s head.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.

Genesis 3:15 (Revised Standard Version)

2 “A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench. He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3).

3 The Hebrew word for “yearning” or “longing” (teshuqah) appears in Genesis 3:16 and Song of Songs 7:11. The New American Bible (Revised Edition) footnote to the latter offers this insight: “The dependency and subordination of woman to man presented as a consequence of sin in the Genesis story is here transcended in the mutuality of true love.”

Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.

Genesis 3:16

I belong to my lover,
his yearning is for me.

Song of Songs 7:11

4 See the Hebrew text for 1 Corinthians 15:47.

…then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

For you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.

Genesis 3:19

The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:47 (Revised Standard Version)

3 Replies to “Tree of Life from Barren Ground”

  1. Dear GMC, thank you for your reflection. This morning’s reflection led me to several of Father Tom Bonacci’s CP doctrinal lecture series. In one, he quotes saint John’s first letter to the Ephesians: in this, we have the love of God not that we have loved God but that God has first loved us. He goes on to say therein lies the essence of sanctity, as the awareness that we stand before God always in need of God’s love, always in need of God’s grace. I say all this to you and Father Victor in tribute to how you call others to follow Jesus, free from every form of enslavement. Thank God and thank you both!

  2. Dear GMC, also, the Russian icon of the crucifixion by Dionysius is my favorite icon. I even have an “original” with Snail at the foot of the cross. Today, I see that the eyes of Christ are open, representing the living body of Christ. I pray before it everyday.
    Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.
    –St. Chrysostom

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