“That’s okay, I’ve got it covered.” A commonly heard phrase that usually signals that we will be able to handle whatever the situation is on our own…and why not? We’ve got resources. We’ve got skills. Our independent nature, and our pride, pushes us to assert our own sufficiency. How quickly the child picks up a little confidence and wants to do it on his own?! But soon we find that we might be in a little over our heads. Before we try to cover a debt we would be wise to consider just how large the debt might be. A little heads up…if the debt is Adam’s debt, there is no way that you got it covered. Adam got in way over his head playing with the Devil, he fell into the trap, he went all in, and he lost. He lost big time. What was on the table was man’s original holiness and original justice that destined man to be “divinized” by God in glory.
In the reading from Romans, chapter 5, St. Paul is speaking to us about the long-lasting effects of Adam’s gamble and fall. Adam was gambling with family assets, assets already committed to the future, a future meant for glory. When he lost, we all lost. It wasn’t Adam alone who would suffer for his loss, everyone would suffer. Every single person ever born into the world as his descendent would inherit his debt and suffer for his loss. “Sin came into the world through one man…,” Paul tells us. Sin entered the world through Adam, who allowed the temptations of his wife and the devil to overpower his commitment to God. But hey, what’s a little temptation? A little bit here, a little bit there, you know, we’ve got it covered, right? We can handle ourselves…until we find out that we can’t, that we are in over our heads, and that we lost the grandkids inheritance. After Adam’s sin forget about an inheritance of eternal life and a future of glory. Paradise just went into foreclosure, locked up tight, along with the tree of life. We are left to pay the debt and the debt of sin is death.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes this sad situation in these terms: “The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay.” Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground,” for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.” (CCC 400)
Through propagation original sin is passed on as well as the condemnation of death to each living person. When Adam chose not to trust in God, in his goodness and providential care, and turned away from him in disobedience, abusing his freedom, sin entered into the world like a virus and has spread to all people so that all have sinned and been deprived of God’s glory. In this way Adam is a “type” of Christ since his one act affected all people. Sounds pretty grim. However, that’s not the end of the story. Just as God gave man the original gift of original holiness and original justice God was not finished with his gift-giving, he gave a new gift, the gift of his Son, Jesus, through whom holiness and justice might once again be reestablished. Grace and life come to us through Jesus the Christ. And, it still gets better, for the gift is not like the transgression…God’s grace is “much more” than is needed to overcome the debt of sin. In Jesus, God provides a “super-abundance” of grace. God has truly “got it covered.”
At the beginning of Lent we start again with Temptation. The temptation is always the same, just presented in different packaging. It is always the temptation to turn away from God, to forsake our faith and trust in him, to think that we “have it covered” on our own. We are tempted to think that we can recover on our own, through our own plans, and so we rebel. Hey, don’t we have social programs (bread from stones), and political action committees and party planks (leadership cult) that promise to get us out of our misery? Jesus, the Gift, shows us the way to true life in this desert pilgrimage – trust in God, obedience and humility. Our hope is that Lent will train us to trust more fully in God’s super-abundant grace. All of us face temptation daily, our faith in God and trust in his Word and Promise, can keep us from going the way of Adam and losing everything. Our first lesson for Lent has to be to learn from Adam’s fall, to not play the devil’s games and to put our trust firmly in God’s grace, which gives us a life that is “so much more” than we could hope to provide for ourselves. Once we have passed through the desert of temptation we will be ready to unite ourselves to Jesus in the Baptism of Easter and follow him on the way to life.