In the creation account found in the Book of Genesis, we learn that all was well in God’s creation. Everything was good. The last sentence of Genesis, Chapter 2, tells us: “And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”
Chapter 3 of Genesis opens up with the serpent slithering into the Garden tempting Adam and Eve. They ate of it and we are told, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” (Gen 3:7)
What sort of nakedness are we talking about? If physical nakedness did not cause Adam and Eve to be ashamed, then what did? The answer is that their relationship with God was torn away. Having separated themselves from the love of God, they were naked and exposed to all that was not of God. They were stripped away from God’s power. They were now vulnerable to the forces of chaos. Like Lucifer, the serpent, who was once the mightiest of God’s angels – the light-bearer – they now lived in darkness, that sort of darkness in which evil lurks and works to separate everything from God and leave us naked and exposed to the forces of darkness and chaos.
Now we see in greater depth what Jesus was talking about in the beatitudes when he declared: “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me …” (Mt 25:34-36)
To be sure, we need to take care of the physical needs of others, but we must not overlook providing for their spiritual food and drink, reaching out with Pope Francis to those who are homeless, to those who have no spiritual home or family and to those who are naked and powerless in the face of the moral and spiritual forces of evil that are at work in this world’s darkness. Those who do not believe in God will end up believing in anything. Those who have nothing above them will be held captive and victimized by all that is around them.
In baptism, we are clothed again and we put on Christ, the Risen Lord, who once again comes to us in a garden, the Garden of the Resurrection.
Go, clothe the naked.