1st Sunday in Lent
03/01/2009
Readings
Genesis 9:8-15
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:12-15

On the first Sunday of Lent we encounter in the Gospels the model for this liturgical season: Christís forty days in the desert. Each of the Synoptic Gospels recount this event as the prelude to Christís public ministry, making this time of prayer and battle with the devil the foundation of all that Jesus will do.

Markís account tells us that the Spirit ďdrove [Jesus] outĒ into the desert. The language used here deliberately parallels the language of Genesis in which it is said that, after the Fall, God drove Adam out of the Garden (Genesis 3:24). With this parallel, Mark is showing that with the tempting in the desert the restoration of all that was lost by Adamís fall begins. The first man had to be driven out of the Garden due to his sins; Jesus is driven out to the desert to redeem mankind.

This is but one parallel between the scene in the Garden of Eden and that of Jesus in the desert. Mark says that Jesus was ďamong wild beasts,Ē bringing to mind the beasts inhabiting the original garden. In that garden, the angel had to bar Adam access to the garden after his fall, now angels minister to the new Adam as he overcomes Satan.

Here we have one of the key themes of the New Testament message: Jesus is the new Adam who comes to undo what Adam did and make our status even more glorious than before the Fall. St. Paul in particular sees Christ as the new Adam, teaching that as the first Adam led the human race into sin and death, so does the second Adam lead us to grace and life (Romans 5; cf. 1 Corinthians 15). This is what the Church proclaims in the Easter Exultet:
O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
With Adam, the whole human race was lost, but in Godís infinite love He sends His son to restore us to His friendship. All that fell with Adam is reborn in Christ through the waters of baptism. Through all the sacraments, but especially the Eucharist, we are able to be in the direct presence of the Lord Ė a presence that Adam had in Eden. Praise be God through the new Adam, Jesus Christ!


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