Meditations by Msgr. Liptak

 

Msgr. Liptakweekly gospel meditations

 

TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Jeremiah 20:10-13; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33


Aim: (1) to give the Church's teaching on original sin; (2) to show of

 

 

 

effects of original sin in the world and ourselves; (3) to bring hope from our cooperation with redemption.

 

God has willed to save us despite our tendency toward sin, inherited through Adam. This is one great Biblical theme crystallized by today's liturgy.

Jeremiah, in today's First Reading, observes that we live in a world tainted by evildoing. Paul, in today's Second Reading, focuses on this human situation; doctrinally we describe it as original sin.

Original sin is a doctrine of our faith, and hence cannot be rejected. It means, basically, that all human beings-save one, Mary, the Mother of Jesus-first appear in this world in a situation of inward alienation from God. It means, too, that human beings are prone to evildoing, that we are all weak in the face of temptation, complacent about our ignorance. Moreover, original sin is the lot of humankind by virtue of generation; Adam's fall has somehow affected all his progeny. Original sin is so basic a premise of anthropology-the study of man-that only in its light can we understand man's renewal by the Father through Jesus.

Jesus, we believe, is the new Adam, in whom all men are reconciled again to the Father. St. Paul emphasizes this doctrine in today's Second Reading. This reconciliation, Paul explains, belongs to the order of a gift. Though born into a world tainted by evil, though ourselves inclined to do evil, God of his own free and loving will comes to our aid so really that we can sing, as Jeremiah did, "the Lord . . . has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked."

The dimensions of our Redemption in Jesus literally stagger the imagination. Ponder today's Gospel again: "Do not be afraid of anything . . . Whoever acknowledges me before men I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven." Here Paul is speaking to us-sinners, therefore. Baptized sinners, but sinful and weak persons, nonetheless.

Paul even goes a step further by asking whether backsliding on our part will cancel out, as it were, God's free and loving desire to reconcile us. The answer, Paul insists, is an emphatic No. For if the Father's first intervention in human history cost the life of his own Son, Jesus, how could one even suspect that the Father would not go to extremes to keep searching out Jesus' brethren, sinful though they may be, so long as their time of trial in this life remains?

Of course we don't presume on God's love and mercy. This would, in effect, be to turn one's back on him.

However, after reading Paul to the Romans in the light of Gospels such as today's, we can begin to grasp that Jesus' being the new Adam is for us one of the most consoling doctrines revealed.

Sometimes we tend to forget that the doctrine of original sin is taught by the Church in the total context of Salvation History. When we make reference to it, we should think at the same time about the universality of Redemption; of Jesus, who is our Savior. Though born into a situation of alienation from God, we nonetheless are reborn through a new Adam, in whom we find reconciliation with the Father.

 
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