Tag Archives: St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Naked and afraid

I was afraid,
because I was naked;
so I hid myself.
Genesis 3: 10 

A few nights ago I began reading Michael Casey’s Fully Human, Fully Divine. The Australian Cistercian monk provides a meditative reading of Mark’s Gospel from the perspective of the Incarnation and divinization.

As I read the first chapter I was struck at how he focused on the incarnation as God assuming our humanity in everything (of course, except sin). As Fr. Michael put it, the humanity assumed by Christ was “the shriveled vulnerability we all share.”

But we are ashamed of our vulnerability.

Isn’t that what happens to Adam and Eve after the Fall. They are ashamed of their vulnerability, their humanity, their nakedness.

Isn’t that what we often try to do?

I know that one of my greatest problems is not wanting to appear to have made a mistake in the eyes of others. So I try to find ways to hide my failings.

Father Michael Casey asks the reader to examine this:

Ponder, for a moment, some of the uncreative ways by which we manifest our fear of being ourselves and of being seen as we are.

He notes four ways: disguise, conformity with the crowd, non-commitment, and “self-improvement.” There are probably many more.

How do I hide myself?

How often do I not let myself be seen as I am, with all my foibles and faults and sinfulness?

How often do I forget that God became flesh so that we may be transformed – not throwing aside our vulnerability but let it be transformed by God?

How often do I not recognize what St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote, as cited in Fully Human, Fully Divine:

Nothing so demonstrates God’s positive attitude towards the human race as embracing my humanity. I repeat: my humanity, and not he flesh Adam had before the fall. What manifests God’s mercy more clearly than that he would embrace such misery?

I may be naked – but I need not fear.