By Father Jacob Dankasa
Special to The Texas Catholic
The ultimate question God asked Adam, the first man, when he sinned was, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9-15). Man was expected to be obedient and listen to God, but he decided to listen to “the Enemy” — Satan. Man broke his relationship with God. God’s question to Adam sounds like more than a question of location — because God is all-knowing and all-present, He knew where Adam was! Rather, God’s question was more a question of relationship than of location: “Where are you in relationship with me?” And Adam’s answer was, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked. So I hid.” He was naked and he was hiding from God because he realized that he was in conversation with the Enemy, that he had disobeyed God. In other words, he was entering into a relationship with Satan.
That’s what happens each time we enter into a relationship with the Enemy, with Satan: we become exposed and guilty, we feel naked and begin to hide. We are no longer free with ourselves, with those we love, and with God. In a relationship with the Enemy there is always something to hide. Sin makes us afraid of the normal situations of life; sin exposes us in such a way that it takes away our freedom in the same way that it did for Adam. Each of us needs to ask: Where am I in relationship with God today?
We must be conscious of those times when we enter into a relationship with the Enemy or cut ourselves away from God and become enslaved because of our own choices. There are certain signs that serve as pointers to help us discover where we are in our relationship with God. These pointers help us to be aware of whether we are holding tightly to our relationship with God, or are in conversation with the Enemy. There are many of these signs, but I will highlight only a few.
One of the signs that we are entering into a relationship with the Enemy is that we begin to hide certain actions from our loved ones. The moment we realize that there are certain behaviors or actions that we prefer our loved ones not know about, then perhaps we’re slipping into a relationship with the Enemy. The moment you become agitated because your spouse has touched your cellphone for whatever reason, the moment when you realize that you are afraid your spouse will learn about something that you are doing, then be careful! You may be entering into a relationship with the Enemy, who is providing an alternative and harmful way of thinking that may eventually ruin your marriage or your family.
A second sign that you are entering into a relationship with the Enemy is that your immediate family no longer feels the positive impact of your presence in the house. When your home feels toxic, is no longer interesting to you, and is no longer a place where you feel comfortable, be careful. When you prefer to find solace and joy elsewhere, when each time you come home it’s like a fire in the house and the only place you find joy is in a bar, at a party somewhere, or in the presence of some friends out there, then it’s time for you to sit down and reflect deeply, because you are beginning to break out of your relationship with God, and the Enemy is providing you with alternatives.
A third sign that you may have begun a conversation with the Enemy is that you quickly get angry with your loved ones, your colleagues, and those who matter to you, especially without any good reason. At those times when you realize you cannot have a conversation with your family or your colleagues without getting angry and agitated, you need to stop and reflect. The Enemy may be providing you with an alternative source of joy that may sooner or later consume your family life, your job and your relationships, and tear you apart.
In all these situations, and many others that we may see if we reflect on our lives, we must listen to the voice of God speaking to us and asking us, as He asked Adam: “Where are you in your relationship with me?” Satan the Enemy is right there around us, manipulating us and trying to make us go into a relationship with him. But even at such moments God is saying to us in the deepest voice of our conscience: “Stay put. I want to continue this relationship with you. Stay away from the alternative that Satan provides.” Sin makes us hide ourselves because it makes us naked and takes away our freedom. When we examine ourselves and find that we are entering into relationships that are outside the realm of God, we can always fight back and return to God in the sacrament of reconciliation. He invites us to seek forgiveness and renew our relationship with him. And this new relationship with God is just what we need in order to build loving relationships with those he has placed in our care as spouses, families, friends, coworkers or members of our communities.
Father Jacob Dankasa is a parochial vicar at St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in McKinney and a regular contributor to The Texas Catholic.