Read Romans 5 : 12-19
This first Sunday of Lent presents us with one of the central texts in all of Paul’s writings. In this passage of his letter to the Romans, Paul describes the cosmic battle between good and evil, Jesus representing the forces of good and Adam, those of evil.
It reminds me a bit of Star Wars, that famous series of films where the universe is represented as being sustained by a “force” which itself is composed of a luminous aspect and a “dark side.” Luke Skywalker, the hero of these films, must avoid giving in to the dark side of this “force” the way his father did. He must choose between these two aspects of the “force.”
This can be compared to the Christian understanding of God. Like the “force” in the movie, the God of Jesus-Christ sustains the universe with power. The cosmos is born out of the almighty will of God. But there are at least two major differences between the “force” of these fictitious films and the reality of God. First, God is not an impersonal “force,” but a loving strength, a compassionate presence. The “force” doesn’t care. God does. And – what is equally important to remember – there is no “dark side” to God. As Paul teaches us, God is nothing but light, mercy, love. It is in turning away from God, in rejecting his loving power, that we plunge ourselves into darkness and death.
This is what Adam did, according to the story that opens the Bible. By turning away from God, he plunged himself into darkness with all his descendants. He inaugurated a cycle of violence that, since that beginning, has characterized human history, a history in which we are all involved from the moment of our births. Adam’s refusal of God encompasses and represents all the refusals that will follow, including our own.
Yet, in the face of these refusals, the inexhaustible love and mercy of the One who holds the whole world in his hands endures. God sent his Son to reverse the cycle of violence inaugurated by Adam. This violence, this evil that weaves its dark veil over human history, cannot stand before the luminous presence of Christ. As Saint Paul says, “there is no comparison between the free gift of God and the fault.” Indeed, the gift of God overtakes the fault, forgives it, erases it, overcomes its deathly effect.
It remains for us to choose with whom we shall stand : with Adam, our proud, rebellious, sinful grand-father? Or with Jesus, our obedient, faithful, loving big brother? Unlike Luke Skywalker, we are not abandoned to ourselves in making this choice. God himself reaches out to us, giving us his Spirit, the power we need to choose life. During these fourty days, let us open our hearts to the Spirit, let us choose to live with Christ. This is my prayer for us all as we start Lent.