The New Adam

Good Friday

Last evening, on Holy Thursday, I spoke of how Jesus calls and welcomes us to share his Eucharistic feast. Like at the first Passover in Egypt, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God frees his people from slavery and death. And his Church continues to renew and rejoice in our great deliverance at this holy meal he gives us. Today, on Good Friday, Jesus resembles and surpasses Adam from the Garden of Eden.

Eve was God’s gift to Adam, and he was a gift to her. The Lord God had cast a deep sleep on the man and while he slept fashioned a woman, a bride, from his side. They began a marriage covenant, became one flesh, and were naked without shame on account of their innocence. Though Adam and Eve could have lived forever by eating from the Tree of Life, they still had some concept of what death was. Otherwise, God’s warning ‘you shall die if you eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil‘ would be meaningless to them. And also realize that the wicked tempter did not approach them crawling on his belly in the dirt — that humiliation followed as part of his punishment from God. The devil would have appeared to them as a more imposing predator.

God had placed the man in the Garden “to tend and keep it.” Adam was not only to cultivate paradise, but also to watch over, guard, and protect it, including Eve. However, when the tempter comes seeking to separate her from God forever, Adam does not intervene. At the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the first Adam does not lay down his life, he does not fight to the death against “the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan,” endangering his bride. So instead, she “took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” They failed, and sinned and fell together, with painful consequences for us all.

Jesus Christ is our New Adam “who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” Though tried in the Garden of Gethsemane, he chose to fulfill God’s will, and “Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Despite his sinless innocence, they stripped him naked and crucified him. The Cross is the New Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, where we see both his goodness and our evil on full display.

Once he had died, they pierced Jesus’ side, and blood and water flowed out. The Bride of Christ is his Church, fashioned from his side as he slept the sleep of death, born from baptismal water and eucharistic Body and Blood. And note Jesus’ last words quoted by St. John: they may be translated as “It is finished,” or “It is consummated.” Christ the Bridegroom, the New Adam, dies for his Bride, the Church; laying down his life in his victorious battle against the Evil One in another garden, and rising again to eternal life from a garden tomb, exulting her along with himself.

It can be a challenge for guys to identify with being the Bride of Christ, just as ladies are challenged to connect with their baptismal call to be priest, prophet, and king in Christ. There is a spousal mystery here, and we must not mistake every feature of earthly marriage for the fullness of the mystical reality with Christ. But realize that Jesus feels an impassioned love for you, a desire to be with you and be one with you, in a close covenantal bond. This relationship involves work and sacrifice – our daily decision to love him – but Jesus’ love for you is constant, always faithful, in good times and in bad. He rejoices in you as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, and offers you his whole self, on the Cross, from this altar, and for ever.

View From the Cross by Tissot

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