Tale of Two Adams
Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Psalm 51:3-6; 12-14,17
Matthew 4:1-11 (see also "Salvation History and Lent")
In today's Liturgy, the destiny of the human race is told as the tale of two "types" of men - the first man, Adam, and the new Adam, Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 45-59).
Paul's argument in the Epistle is built on a series of contrasts between "one" or "one person" and "the many" or "all." By one person's disobedience, sin and condemnation entered the world, and death came to reign over all. By the obedience of another one, grace abounded, all were justified, and life came to reign for all.
This is the drama that unfolds in today's First Reading and Gospel.
Formed from the clay of the ground and filled with the breath of God's own Spirit, Adam was a son of God (see Luke 3:38), created in his image (see Genesis 5:1-3). Crowned with glory, he was given dominion over the world and the protection of His angels (see Psalms 8:6-8; 91:11-13). He was made to worship God - to live not by bread alone but in obedience to every word that comes from the mouth of the Father.
Adam, however, put the Lord his God to the test. He gave in to the serpent's temptation, trying to seize for himself all that God had already promised him. But in his hour of temptation, Jesus prevailed where Adam failed - and drove the devil away.
Still we sin after the pattern of Adam's transgression. Like Adam, we let sin in the door (see Genesis 4:7) when we entertain doubts about God's promises, when we forget to call on Him in our hours of temptation.
But the grace won for us by Christ's obedience means that sin is no longer our master.
As we begin this season of repentance, we can be confident in His compassion, that He will create in us a new heart (see Romans 5:5; Hebrews 8:10). As we do in today's Psalm, we can sing joyfully of our salvation, renewed in His presence.
Return to Biblical Reflections on the Sunday Mass Readings
Salvation History and Lent
During Lent, we re-read and re-live the great events in salvation history from the beginning of the world to the giving of the New Covenant. And each Sunday, the historical events recounted in the Old Testament readings find their fulfillment in the words and deeds of Jesus in the New:
• In the First Sunday of Lent, we are presented with the story of Adam's creation, temptation and fall - reenacted and reversed in Jesus' temptation in the Gospel.
• The promise to Abraham in the Second Sunday of Lent is answered in the declaration of the Transfiguration - that Jesus is God's beloved Son.
• On the Third Sunday, we read of the Exodus and God giving living water to His people. Their thirst is satisfied forever in the living waters drawn by Christ in the Gospel.
• David is anointed king of Israel on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, as God declares that He sees "not as man sees." In the Gospel, Jesus gives sight to a blind man, revealing the blindness of those who won't believe that He is the Son of Man.
• Finally, on the Fifth Sunday, Ezekiel envisions the "resurrection" of David's kingdom, which is symbolically fulfilled in the Gospel by Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.