In its essence innocence is having not done anything wrong, being free of guilt, blameless. That is why Jesus Christ is the spotless Lamb, the unblemished Sacrifice, the Redeemer, the fulfillment of the Old Testament Covenant and the New and Everlasting Covenant. The Redeemer of sin had to be innocent of any sin.
Jesus said, “I and the Father are one”, and, “I can only do what I see my Father in heaven doing”, and, “He who sees me sees the Father also”… So as Jesus was innocent as the God-Man, the Father is innocent
When we talk about preserving our innocence or regaining it, we are talking about being free from the effects of knowing evil. It is the knowledge of evil which scripture equates with sin in the garden of Eden. “Do not eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.” He was talking about knowing evil since all they had known up to the sin was good. So in essence He was warning them not to desire to know evil, to only know good by knowing the Father and His goodness, to preserve their innocence. In doing so, He was also telling them, it is not necessary to expose yourself to evil, to look at evil, to know evil and its ways in order to not sin and that it was better to simply eat of the tree of life to have true life, a life in God which brings safety, happiness, and peace. He tells us that we ought to stay in the parameters of His goodness and mercy, parameters meant to keep us away from the knowledge of good and evil.
What does all this mean for us? The Father wants us to be free, truly free and that means free from slavery to sin and its effects. He wants us to live in the freedom of being a child of God, and therefore free to love. This freedom can only be experienced living in innocence, free from the knowledge of evil. Because as soon as we know evil, it saddens our spirit, taints our understanding of truth, and deprives us of that childlike faith where “all things are possible with God.”
Our Father, because He is supremely innocent, wants us to remain in innocence, to be united to Him in His innocence, to be happy and free and childlike in order to live in the relationship with childlike dependency on Him as our Father and God supplying all our needs and providing for our good, free from the kind of responsibility that makes us lose our peace because it is an ultimate responsibility and we weren’t meant to live without dependency on our Father, we weren’t meant to be on our own and fully responsible for ourselves in a world that is not innocent. Even in the Garden, when we were without sin, God walked among us in perfect friendship, having given us everything we needed to live and be happy.
And yet it is not enough to be innocent, we must know that we are. If we do not believe in our innocence we are susceptible to temptation, the temptation to judge ourselves guilty. If we judge ourselves guilty when we are innocent we lose our strength to do God’s will, to make sacrifices, to love God above ourselves. St. John tells us in the book of revelations, speaking about the end times, “the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who night and day accused them before God.” That is his role in these times to accuse and accuse and accuse and never tire of accusing and therefore to provoke us to give in to the accuser by judging ourselves guilty when we are innocent. To do so is not humility but unjust and dangerous to our souls because we rob ourselves of that vital strength to defend ourselves against the temptation to give up, to despair, to lose faith and hope and charity. Knowing our innocence allows us to live in the freedom of a child of God, knowing our inheritance as His children. This true interior freedom of knowing our innocence allows us to believe that “all things are possible with God,” and therefore allows us to live by faith, believing everything that God tells us, and hoping in everything He promises without wavering or doubting. When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, He suffered greatly asking if this cup would pass because being the death reserved for the worst of criminals, he was assailed with the thought that he was dying a guilty man and in saying not as I will but as you will Father, He was acknowledging His innocence and that He was doing this out of obedience to the Father and not because He was guilty. He regained His strength in acknowledging His innocence and that this was a free will choice and act of love instead of a sentence for guilt. We all wane facing the acceptance of a judgment that is not true, accepting guilt when we are innocent.
We all marvel at babies and children for their simplicity and innocence and purity. They have perfect sincerity, honesty and the inability to perceive evil. Why does our Father create us this way? Defenseless, and without the ability to do anything for ourselves? He can only do this because He never intended to leave us alone, on our own, helpless, but He intended to be with us, in us, as our Father and God, taking care of us and guiding us by the hand, providing and protecting, always. He desires for us to be in relationship with Him and that is why He made us with need of Him, so that we would always seek Him. He could have made us to not have needs and supplied us with all the gifts and attributes necessary to live in an autonomous fashion and the fact that He didn’t tells us He wanted to be in relationship with us, to be all we need so that we can just be, be in Him, with Him, just being, like that defenseless newborn in His arms, resting next to His most Paternal Heart. Amen