Over the course of 5 years beginning in 1979, Saint John Paul II delivered 129 Wednesday audiences on the subject of the Theology of the Body. This series wove together the subjects of human anthropology, sexuality, morality, philosophy, and scriptural study. He spent several weeks reflecting on Genesis 3 and the concept of concupiscence. We first see this concept of concupiscence in the Garden of Eden, when that woman sees what I can only imagine is a glittery, shimmering, perfect apple--perhaps made of gold or dipped in caramel or chocolate... or with a side of a cheese that pairs perfectly with forbidden fruit. Genesis 3:6 (NAB) reads,
The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it...
Here we learn three things about the appeal (wordplay!) of the fruit: it arouses a lustful desire not only to satiate Eve's physical urges, but a lustful desire for shiny objects and general greed--to want more... not to mention that she saw a fruit that could satisfy her disordered desire to know everything--and to gain some definite power she didn't currently have. To get hers... because in that moment she was sure that the Father was holding out on her... this Father that had provided everything. She doubted that the Father had her best interest at heart. She doubted His Goodness. She doubted her worth. She doubted that obedience = freedom. She had no desire to wait. To be patient.
In 1 John 2:16-17, we hear a statement on the Triple Concupiscence or Threefold Lust: "All that is in the world, the concupiscence of the flesh, the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world passes away with its concupiscence; but the one who does the will of God will remain in eternity." Sound familiar? The tree is good for food... meaning it looks yum yum for your tum tum (lust of the flesh), it is pleasing to the eyes... meaning it sparks a covetousness within the onlooker (lust of the eyes), and it was desirable for gaining wisdom... or learning all the things--like the knowledge of good and evil--and the meaning of the word naked (pride of life).
But wait... if this newly created Garden is so... new... and Good... how can the world (as John states) produce the Triple Concupiscence?
Saint John Paul II clarifies in the Theology of the Body that the fruit itself of the tree was not the actual problem--God didn't make evil apples... in fact He said they were quite Good: "It is only as a consequence of sin, as a fruit of the breaking of the covenant with God in the human heart--in man's innermost [being]--that the"world" of Genesis became the "world" of the Johannine words (1 Jn 2:15-16) the place and source of concupiscence."
The choices of our first parents not only broke our hearts, but led to a cosmic shift that changed the very world we live in. We must strive every day to not be living "of this world" while inescapably living in it... surrounded by glittery apples. And as John reminds us, we must focus our desires on the will of God. The only way to reorder a disordered desire is to take another look at the desire's object. Deep down we are seeking goodness, beauty, or truth... and inevitably God! Because the devil may be creative in the words he uses or the outfits he wears, but his message of sowing the seeds of doubt about God's goodness are the same now as they were in the beginning. In the desert Jesus faces these same threefold temptations... but we'll take a look at that in Lent. For now, it's time to drink, and what better cocktail than the Szarlotka, a Polish Apple Koktajl!
Szarlotka, a Polish Apple Cocktail
(Polish because of JPII + Apple because, well, you read the blog.)
1 1⁄2 oz. Vodka (preferably Polish) or chamomile-infused vodka
Unfiltered apple juice (cloudy like Eve's sense of judgment)
Pour vodka into highball glass over ice. Add apple juice to taste (but definitely add some...)
Garnish with a fig leaf.
Enjoy in your Garden (not outside of it).
P.S. This Szarlotka.com recipe is adapted from Saveur.com (with a little help from Yummly).