Sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned. Sin existed in the world long before the Law was given. There was no law and so no one could be accused of the sin of ‘law-breaking’, yet death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even though their sin, unlike that of Adam, was not a matter of breaking a law.
Adam prefigured the One to come, but the gift itself considerably outweighed the fall. If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift. The results of the gift also outweigh the results of one man’s sin: for after one single fall came judgement with a verdict of condemnation, now after many falls comes grace with its verdict of acquittal.
If it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous. Again, as one man’s fall brought condemnation on everyone, so the good act of one man brings everyone life and makes them justified. As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
The season of Lent gives us a fesh opportunity to revisit the old weakness, the debilitating tendency, that saps our relationship with God and complicates our relationship with others.
It gives us another chance to measure the mess of life, and how it frustrates our ability to live lovingly.
Most importantly, of course, it helps us remember that despite all this sin and its consequences is not the end. A new beginning has been won for us: all of us and always. We strive in Lent to live better but not by oiur own efforts only, also by God’s gift.
Adam by Frederick Messina: Vatican Museum. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.