Today we start to see the consequences of the fall, namely, the exile of Adam and Eve from Paradise. Saint Augustine points out that God dismissed Adam and Eve from Paradise, rather than excluding them. It was their own actions that excluded them, making them unfit for Paradise. Instead, they were sent out to live in exile, where life became hard, work became a drudgery, and conflicts developed among their descendants.
What Adam and Eve lost in losing Paradise was the true knowledge of God. They are banished from the tree of life at the heart of Paradise and God places the cherubim at its gate in order to guard it. Saint Dionysius the Areopagite tells us that
The name cherubim signifies the power to know and to see God, to receive the greatest gifts of His light, to contemplate the divine splendour in primordial power, to be filled with the gifts that bring wisdom and to share these generously with subordinates as part of the beneficent outpouring of wisdom.
However, we are not left entirely without hope, for God also continues to go in search of Adam and Eve, calling them back to Himself. And this search will ultimately culminate in the coming of Jesus Christ, the New Adam, who enables our return to Paradise and the knowledge of God.
Blessed is He who was pierced and so removed the sword from the entry to Paradise.
Saint Ephrem the Syrian
A Reading from the Book of Genesis 3:21-4:7:
And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever”- therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”