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Advent, and the Blessing of the Advent Wreath
Humphreys' Advent 2015 Pastoral Letter
Redemption and the Redeemer
“Art thou he that is to come, or do we look for another?”
We often speak of “Original Sin;” and of
the “Redeemer”—what do these terms mean? To understand Original Sin, we must
know “Original Justice.” Adam and Eve were created sinless; endowed with
Natural gifts: strength, health, beauty, intellect, strong
will, and so forth.
Preternatural Gifts—these are gifts above the normal human
nature, but not exactly “supernatural”—infused knowledge, immortality,
and integrity—knowledge without study, freedom from sickness, injury,
death, and toil.
Supernatural Gifts: Sanctifying and Actual graces.
In short, man lived in paradise, and was
able to merit even greater graces by his good works. Man was just a little
lower than the angels.
But, like the fallen angels, man thought
too much of himself. Just like Lucifer, Adam could be convinced that he should
be on par with God; a “god” himself. “God knows that in what day soever you
shall eat [of the forbidden fruit], your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be
as Gods, knowing good and evil.”
Adam and Eve succumbed to the sin of Pride.
This notion, that they might become
“gods” was placed in their minds by the devil because of envy. The devil once
had the friendship of God—before the angelic fall from grace—he no longer
enjoyed that friendship, and didn’t want anyone else to have what he had lost.
Eve, and then Adam, disobeyed God's
command; contradicted His will. “She took of the fruit … and did eat, and gave
to her husband who did eat.”
Their punishment was to loose most of God's gifts
All of the supernatural, all of the
preternatural, and many of the natural gifts. Original sin, then, in the
descendants of Adam, is not so much a personal guilt, as it is simply the loss
of the gifts given to Adam. Adam was something like a wealthy man who gambled
away his fortune, and had nothing to leave to his children. Not the children’s
fault, of course, but nonetheless they would have to go without.
If we must guess, it might be that God
took these gifts away from all mankind, not so much as punishment but as
prevention—He could see that in Adam and Eve, they excited human pride too much.
God took away His gifts, but He promised to restore them.
He told the devil that he would put
enmities between the children of the woman, and the children of the devil. “She
shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”
Later He renewed his pledge, making a perpetual covenant with Abraham and his
The one to crush the devil would be a son of Abraham.
Throughout the New Testament, we see
references to the Old Testament, showing how these covenants and prophecies have
been fulfilled. (Today’s Gospel reminds us that the miracles of our Lord—the
blind seeing, the deaf hearing, and so forth—were predicted by Isaias the
For thousands of years, the children of Adam and Eve awaited the Messiah. You
see, only the Son of God could make amends for a crime against the dignity of
God himself. And only a man could offer this amendment on behalf of men.
when the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son,
made of a woman, made under the law: That he might redeem them who were
under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
In these weeks of Advent, we will learn
of the preparations made for His birth, and His entrance into the world. We
will hear of John the Baptist, sent “to make straight the way of the Lord.”
(Another prediction of Isaias.)
We will hear of the angel Gabriel, informing Mary, “thou shalt call His name
Jesus,” a name, which in the Hebrew language means “Savior” or “Deliverer.”
In the same passage we will be reminded that Isaias predicted the Virgin birth
The “Savior” also is referred to as “the
Christ,” the “anointed one.” This refers to his three-fold office: Teacher,
King, and Priest.
We just heard Saint Paul quoting Isaias:
“There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles,
in him the Gentiles shall hope.”
Let me close by reminding you: Although
we did not commit the original sin, we have no reason to complain of unjust
treatment; we have done no better: we have all sinned ourselves. We all do have
reason to rejoice, however, for God has promised a Redeemer. A Redeemer for His
chosen people, and for all the peoples of the world. And it is for the birth of
this Redeemer that we prepare during these few short weeks of Advent.
Let us be sure that when He comes, we
have no false pride as did Adam and Eve; That we are ready to welcome Him into
a sinless heart... Into a soul made spotless by the power of His sanctifying