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 Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 12th Sunday of the Year, points to a deeper wound to human living than law-breaking, even when that law is Torah, God’s law given through Moses.
The failure of Adam is a failure to live right with God, lovingly. Love goes beyond law, because of its commitment to the person of the other. For Adam the other was God, the Creator, and he failed in his relationship through disobedience and through a self-isolating fear and shame. The result proved to be a lasting alienation.
God never gave up – even dressed Adam for the exile. Underlying the whole of the Old Testament is the tension: might this next person, this next episode be the one where we return to that relationship, even as formalised (cramped?) by the Law. But the answer is always, ‘No’, and Israel waits.
Then begins the New Testament, and Jesus, God’s sustained ‘Yes’ to us and, in his humanity, our sustained response to God.
In him we find life.
Adam. Cracow, Poland. (C) 2014, Allen Morris.