In today’s first reading, despite the sin of Adam and Eve, even in the face of its consequences, life goes on. Life will be hard, but God is ever present. And it all started with the tree of good and evil. But here at the end of Genesis 3 the tree of life (Gen 2:16-17) assumes importance. It has not yet functioned as an integral part of the story, but now, because of sin, humanity is denied access to this tree and is expelled from the garden. Humanity is not able to seize the birthright of immortality offered by God. Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden, cherubim stationed at the gate as guardians of the tree of life to prevent humanity from re-entering the garden.
Then the LORD God said: “See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is evil! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever.” The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden (Gen 3:22-23)
This verse is a deliberation. God dialogues with himself and observes that man has become “like one of us” in knowing good and evil. In one sense, but in only one sense, what the serpent said was true. Man has become like God. But these words spoken by the serpent convey one thing and the same words from God say another. The serpent held out to the couple the prospect that being like God would bring its unlimited privileges, unheard-of acquisitions and gifts. Adam and Eve, rather than experiencing bliss, they encounter misery. Rather than sitting on a throne, they are expelled from the garden. Rather than new prerogatives, they experience only a reversal. The couple not only fail to gain something they do not presently have; the irony is that they lose what they currently possess: fellowship with God. They found nothing and lost everything.
The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, in our age, becomes the person of Jesus Christ. In Him is found fellowship with God and life eternal. In Him we find everything and lose nothing.