Just a few words on the second reading of today’s Mass. To begin with Adam was not an actual historical person. We can see him as the personification of Everyman. Jesus was a person like us in everything though he did not sin.
In his letter to the Romans Paul compares the obedience of Jesus to his Father’s will to the disobedience of Adam to God’s command. Adam fell under the allurement that if he ate the forbidden fruit he would become like God, knowing good and evil. Adam wanted to step up, to be more than he was. He was a climber. On the other hand Jesus, the new Adam, was willing to step down. As St. Paul wrote to Philippians, Jesus did not consider his equality with God as something to be clung to. He empties himself of his divinity and took on our humanity, being like us in all things. Unlike the self-seeking, disobedient Adam, Jesus was obedient to God, even to dying his painful and humiliating death on the cross.
Adam’s act of disobedience brought death into the world. Christ’s obedience restored us to life, endless life with God. As St. Paul puts it, ‘so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all people… just as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many were made righteous .
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil turned out to be the source of death. The tree of Calvary’s cross becomes the tree of life for all who believe.
Jesus faced his temptations to turn away from his God given mission by seeking fame and power. For all of us temptations are a fact of life. There can be times when they overpower us; the promise of satisfaction, pleasure, prestige, happiness can be too much. We fall away from our life giving relationship with God. We come face to face with our own nakedness, our own weakness. But the obedience of Jesus, that obedience that brought him to death, even death on the cross, offers us the chance to be reconciled with God through the sacrament of reconciliation.
As we received ashes on Ash Wednesday we were encourage to ‘turn away from sin and believe the good news.’ We were encouraged to trust the truth that sin is not the final reality of our lives. The reality of our lives is the Jesus Christ died on the cross and by his wounds we are healed. The reality of our lives is that God so loved us God sent his Son to us, not to condemn, not to damn us but to bring us to a deeper awareness of how loved we are by our Father.
Can we imagine Christ crucified speaking to us from his cross asking each of us,’ what more can I do to convince you that you are loved, you are forgiven.’? Can we hear him using the words of Isaiah, though your sins are as red as scarlet they shall be white as wool’, though they be red as crimson they shall be white as snow.
The church offers each of us the opportunity, through prayer and fasting and caring for others, to open our hearts and lives to be open to God’s power and goodness and so deepen our relationship with God. Can we come appreciate this truth of our faith, ‘ In this is love, not that we love God but that God first love us and sent his son into the world to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ ? During this season of Lent can we grow in the life that is ours through the obedience of our Crucified Lord?