This past Thursday we began our Lenten reading of Pope Francis’ Joy of the Gospel. In the first chapter Pope Francis outlines our cause for joy even in a troubled world and ailing Church: our personal encounter and relationship with Jesus. Francis observes that we ought to have a relationship with Jesus where we can say “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace.” Our readings this weekend exemplify what Francis is saying here and challenge us to respond to God’s love!
Doubtless most of us are familiar with the story of the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve, created for closeness with God instead allow the serpent to sew doubt of God in their minds and hearts. Faced with this mistrust, they choose to eat the fruit of the Tree and so doing they allow sin to enter the world; sin which requires redemption!
Paul’s words to the Romans are at once simple and complex. The idea he’s trying to get across is that in the same way Adam was responsible for sin entering the world and corrupting it, through Jesus God’s grace would enter the world and restore it. This message is huge because it proves that when we left God, God didn’t leave us!
And our Gospel reading today puts Jesus in the same situation as Adam and Eve, but allows us to see Paul’s words come to fruition. Jesus, in the desert is tempted, asked if He truly trusted in God’s love and promises; yet unlike Adam who doubted, Jesus remains steadfast, His heart unified with the Father allowing him to resist the Devil’s traps.
If we look far ahead to the Easter Vigil, the words we hear today are echoed in the Church’s proclamation of Christ’s Resurrection where we hear “Oh happy fault that earned for us so glorious a Redeemer!” This is the core joy of the Church and the core joy of the Gospel! God never abandon His people, willing even to give His son to redeem and restore them! This joy, that we are loved unconditionally by the Father through the Son, is what should prompt us to missionary love and to invite others to seek what we have found!