Adam and Eve
by Rev. Albert F. Ernst, O.S.F.S.

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God gave our first parents many precious gifts.  Natural gifts, preternatural and supernatural.  Natural gifts are those which are necessary to make a being the kind of being it is supposed to be (the laws of nature).  Preternatural gifts are a perfection of the natural gifts; complete control over ones lower nature, freedom from ignorance, freedom from suffering and freedom from death.  The supernatural gift is a perfection super-added to our nature to which we have no right, but which, if received, enables us to live as a child of God and share in the divine life.  The moment original sin was committed, Adam and Eve suffered a tremendous loss.  Their natural gifts were weakened, from that moment on human nature became tainted.  The preternatural and supernatural gifts were lost.  Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, never to return.  Behind them were sealed forever the gates of Paradise, guarded by angels with flaming swords.  Before them, were closed, at least for a time, the gates of heaven.  A world of misery here, and an eternity of despair hereafter, were left to the first human beings and the rest of mankind, unless something was done.  Adam, the representative of the human race had made his choice for himself and all mankind.

But God in His infinite mercy did not forsake fallen man.  He left one ray of hope, the promise of a future Redeemer.  This Redeemer would make it possible to escape the everlasting fate that had befallen man.  God would send His divine Son to redeem man from sin and point out to him the way to happiness.  God's Son, the second person of the Blessed Trinity could furnish the infinite expiation necessary.  But to do so He must become man.

A woman had been the cause of sin.  A woman must bear the Redeemer of the world.  The serpent had tempted the woman to sin.  Another woman should crush the head of the serpent.  But, eternal wisdom decided that the Savior should not come immediately after the first sin was committed.  Man should first, by experience, learn about what an abyss of depravity he had fallen into as a result of that sin, before receiving our Lord's help.  His longing for God and his gratitude would then be all the greater.  This sad period between Adam's fall and the coming of the Redeemer lasted for thousands of years.  It was divided into various periods.

The first period dates from Adam to the deluge.  Adam lived to a ripe old age.  Children were born of Adam and Eve.  Soon tragedy struck.  The first death, Cain killed his brother Abel.  However, the human race continued to grow not only in numbers but also in wickedness.  The sins committed were so horrible and numerous that scripture tells us, God almost repented for having created man.  On account of the wickedness of the people, God decided to destroy all mankind except Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.  So for forty days and forty nights God sent rain over the earth until every creature outside the ark was destroyed by the floods.  Thereafter for a time man remained faithful to God.

The second period of expectation dates from the deluge to Abraham.  Not too many years after the great rains, mankind again became forgetful of God.  Men and women gave themselves up to the vilest of sins and corruption.  God sent them many holy men to tell them about God and warn them about their sinful ways, but to no avail.  Accordingly, God chose the Jews as the race through which to continue His doctrine, and from which the future Savior would be born.  To guide and direct the Jews, God picked Abraham.  Under Abraham, God punished the people of Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness by destroying their entire cities by fire and brimstone.  This stood as a constant threat and warning to all transgressors of God's commands.

The next period extends from Abraham to Moses.  From Abraham, the blessing of God descended upon Isaac and Jacob, who led the chosen people.  Jacob had twelve sons, the youngest being Joseph.  He was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery for thirty pieces of silver, the same sum for which Judas betrayed Jesus many years later.  Through Joseph's influence, the Jewish race increased and grew wealthy in Egypt, even though they were held in captivity there.  After Joseph, God selected Moses to lead His people out of captivity to the promised land.  To Moses, God gave the ten commandments to guide His people.

During the next period the Jews were ruled by kings.  The Jews were dissatisfied, discontented in the promised land.  They had enough of gods, patriarchs like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and so on.  They demanded a king, like other nations.  God gave in and sent them Kings Saul, David and Solomon.  Years passed on.

The Jews grew more restless, more impatient in their wanting and longing for the promised Redeemer.  To encourage them, God, from time to time, sent them prophets who spoke as other men had never spoken.  God inspired these prophets so that they were able to tell their people, hundreds of years beforehand, many things about the coming Savior.  These prophets unfolded in detail much of the life of the coming Redeemer centuries before our Lord came.  It is interesting to recall a few of these prophecies.

Fifteen-hundred years before His coming Moses foretold that the Redeemer would be a descendent of Abraham.  Seven-hundred-fifty years before it happened the prophet Isaiah foretold the miraculous birth of the Messiah.  He would be born of a virgin.  That same year the prophet Micheas foretold that Christ would be born in Bethlehem.  The time of His birth was foretold four-hundred-ninety years before it happened.  Other prophecies included that the three kings would journey to Bethlehem, the miracles, the betrayal, the entry into Jerusalem, the scourging, the crucifixion, etc.

And yet, in spite of all these events and promises, in spite of all these holy men sent by God, the human race had grown worse and worse.  It was hardly able to distinguish right from wrong.  Men had given themselves up to idolatry, vices and immorality until the entire world almost despaired of ever recovering from the sad state of affairs into which it had drifted.  The people could only hope that God Himself would intervene and save the human race from total ruin and self-destruction.

Amid such despair, after at least four thousand years, God took pity upon fallen man and decided to fulfill the promise He made when He expelled Adam and Eve from paradise.  This promise was fulfilled on the feast of the Annunciation, a virgin named Mary accepted God's proposal.  She accepted God's wish and brought forth a Son who became our Savior and Redeemer.  How consoling it is to live now after the coming of the Savior than before.  How consoling it is to know that God is really present in our Church, even though an unbelieving world around us is still steeped in darkness as of old.  Work with Him, live with Him, love Him.

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