A Christian Faith Magazine April 2003, Volume 8, Issue 9  
The Poison and the Antidote
Fr. Paul Check
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Suppose you were feeling so poorly that you had to go to the doctor. And after examining you and doing, some blood work, the doctor says, "I am sorry to have to tell you that you've been poisoned." That news would surely capture your attention, and you might even be a bit relieved to know the exact nature of the problem that afflicts you. Let's say that the doctor then explains that the antidote that you need does exist, yet it must be taken regularly in the appropriate doses or the poison will spread and finally consume the body. To preserve the health of the body you must follow a specific regimen, which begins with a large measure of the antidote. Who among us would ignore this advice?

Many of us symptoms that reveal a poison within us. Instinctively, we know that something prevents us from being all that we can or should be. St. Paul explained the effects of the "poison" in human nature like this, "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." (Rom 7:19) Which of us has not felt that struggle within our heart or which of us has not been dissatisfied with out thoughts or conduct in this situation or that? Bishop Fulton Sheen used a different metaphor to explain our interior struggle when he said that we feel sometimes like a radio tuned in to two different stations: one tuned in to Heaven and one tuned into Hell.


There must be some explanation for this poison, this static, this conflict within us. Surely God did not create us this way. Cardinal Newman wrote that given the presence of evil in the world, the presence of evil within us, we can only reach one of two conclusions: either God does not exist or man is "out of joint with the purposes of His creator." Either God does not exist or something has gone terribly wrong with God's plan for humanity.

The explanation for what has gone terribly wrong is in some respects very simple. Frankly, it is a relief to know what is wrong-just as it's a relief to know from the doctor why I feel poorly when I am sick.) The explanation is this: at some point-actually very early in human history-we misused our freedom. Man in the form of our first parents, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God, in effect said, "No!" to Him. We call this initial rebellion against God, "Original Sin." And somehow, the consequences of Adam and Eve's rebellion have spilled into you and me. We are tainted, poisoned by Original Sin. Even as a stream that is polluted at its source passes along its impurity down the line, so are the effects of Original Sin transmitted to all of mankind.

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