In today’s readings we hear a beautiful Scriptural summary of salvation history: Adam and Eve don’t resist temptation and sin through their disobedience. Jesus, on the other hand, resists temptation and does not sin through his obedience. It’s a perfect contrast. Saint Paul stresses this contrast in his letter to the Romans, “for just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one, the many will be made righteous.”
We often get hung up with the sin of Adam and cannot get past the sinfulness of mankind: I can remember more than once blaming Adam and Eve for our sinful nature.
We must always remember however that the sin of Adam and Eve has been totally healed by Jesus Christ. Through his perfect obedience to the Father’s will he has reconciled the sin of Adam, he has made things whole again. The obedience of Jesus has restored us entirely to the state of Adam and Eve before the fall; literally wiping away our sin, not just covering it up or looking the other way.
We see the obedience of Jesus strong when the devil tempts him in the desert at the very beginning of his ministry. Satan tempts Jesus, playing on his hunger and weakness, yet Jesus remains firm in his identity as the Son of God. Jesus remains obedient to the Father’s will.
At the end of his ministry we see Jesus’ obedience strong again, but the setting has changed. It’s at Calvary, on the cross, where he gives himself obediently for our salvation. Adam and Eve were selfish, eating of the tree in order to be like God; Jesus does the exact opposite, he empties himself of all glory and offers himself up as the perfect sacrifice.
This one act of perfect obedience destroys the power of sin, and by us uniting to it through our baptism and our receiving of the body and blood of Christ, we are saved.
This one sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, this sacrifice of perfect obedience is what we celebrate at the Eucharist Sunday after Sunday.
This one sacrifice of Christ on the cross 2000 years ago is made present here and now in our midst during the Eucharist, for our salvation.
During the celebration of the Mass we are swept up into the great mystery of salvation. The offering of his body and blood which began at the last supper when he said “this is my body” and “this is my blood” manifests itself here.
Sunday after Sunday we remember the redemption Jesus offers us through his obedience. We remember the fact he has remedied the sin of Adam through obedience. We remember the great gift of himself on the cross and the gift of himself here among us under the appearance of bread and wine.
At the Eucharist we become participants of the one sacrifice of Christ as he comes into our body and soul. No wonder he told us to do this in memory of him: the Eucharist is the most powerful ritual of the Church. The Eucharist reminds us and announces to the world that Jesus Christ, the obedient Son, has offered himself for us and has gained us our salvation.
For the past months twenty-five of our brothers and sisters have been preparing to be received fully into our Catholic Church. They have studied, they have asked questions and most importantly they have prayed. In a few weeks four will be baptized and the rest will be received into full communion.
The Good News of the Gospel, the salvation of Jesus Christ won for us through his obedience will become a reality in their lives.
Picture: Altar on Calvary at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem, December 2006