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BEFORE THE CROSS | Mary reverses the pattern of Eve

The mother of Jesus trusted that God would bless her and all humanity through her

Adam threw Eve under the bus. First, he didn’t help her reject the temptation of the serpent. Then he freely joined her in eating from the tree. Finally, Adam had a chance to make a clean confession when God asked him “What happened?” But he didn’t. Instead, he blamed Eve: “She gave me the fruit, so I ate it!”

So God turned to Eve and offered her the chance to make a clean confession. “Why did you do this?” She deflected the blame, as well. “The serpent tricked me, so I ate it!”

What does God do with the fault of Adam and Eve? With infinite generosity and creativity, He weaves it into the fabric of a greater story.

So, when Adam didn’t protect Eve, when she sinned and he wasn’t willing to pay the price, Jesus came into the world as a new and better Adam. He took the Church as His bride and, on the Cross, paid the price for her sins. In Jesus, God showed His generosity in being willing to forgive our sins, and His creativity in how He did it.

This combination of divine generosity and creativity seems to be a pattern in salvation history. As writer Louis Evely once said: “God says, ‘You will do what you want, but I notify you that every time I will invent something to triumph over your evil.’”

We see the same creativity in how Mary relates to Eve. Eve didn’t understand God’s plan. She didn’t trust that God would bless her and all humanity through her, if she would just accept God’s timing and the way He wanted to give the blessing. Eve said “No,” and reached out to take the blessing on her own terms, not trusting that God would give it to her. So Mary was given a special grace, that she might face the trial again on behalf of humanity. When the angel Gabriel came to her, she didn’t understand God’s plan. But she trusted that God would bless her, and all humanity through her. Mary said “Yes.” She received the blessing in God’s timing, and in His way. God showed His generosity in giving us a do-over with Mary, and His creativity in how He reversed the pattern of Eve through her.

As we celebrate the Immaculate Conception this week (Dec. 8), we reflect on how God has been generous and creative in dealing with our sins. God also invites us to be generous and creative with others. Every man inherits the sinful pattern of the first Adam, and every woman inherits the sinful pattern of the first Eve. But, by God’s grace, every one of us is invited to share in the generosity and creativity manifested in the second Adam and the new Eve. Advent is a great time to reflect on and grow in that grace.

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