Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Second Sunday of Advent—6 December AD 2015

Ordinary of the Mass
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Advent, and the Blessing of the Advent Wreath

Archbishop Humphreys' Advent 2015 Pastoral Letter


Redemption and the Redeemer
“Art thou he that is to come, or do we look for another?”[1]

    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 blessings:

·                 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.”[2]  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.”[3]  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.”[4]  Later He renewed his pledge, making a perpetual covenant with Abraham and his descendants.[5]  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 Prophet.[6])  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.  Eventually,

    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.”[7]

    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.”[8]  (Another prediction of Isaias.[9])  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.”[10]  In the same passage we will be reminded that Isaias predicted the Virgin birth of Jesus.[11]

    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.”[12]

    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 grace.


[1]   Gospel:  Matthew xi: 2-10

[12]   Epistle: Romans: xv:4‑13;       
        Cf. Isaias: xi:10





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