Formation

How will we respond to God’s plan for our salvation?

By FATHER JEFFREY LOSEKE

The plan of God is ever-ancient and yet ever-new, and it cannot be thwarted. In the beginning, God established our first parents in an earthly paradise. Adam and Eve enjoyed a privileged relationship with God and each other. Sin had not yet entered the world, and all was as God intended.

In the midst of the garden stood the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve were not to eat of its fruit lest they learn of evil and be subject to its most catastrophic effect, death. Nevertheless, the proud woman, Eve, took it upon herself to eat of the fruit. Further, in her pride, she could not bear to be alone in sin, and so she offered it to her husband, leading him to sin as well. Adam, the disobedient man, did not protect his wife from temptation and collaborated in that first sin by his own free choice. Together, they tasted evil and suffered its effects. The plan of God, which included Man, Woman, Tree and Fruit, seemed foiled.

But God’s will cannot be thwarted, and his plan is undefeatable. In the fullness of time, he offered a remedy for the sin of Adam and Eve through a plan that once again included Man, Woman, Tree and Fruit. This time, Jesus, the New Adam, fulfilled God’s will by being obedient, even unto death. Mary, the New Eve, became the humble woman who submitted to the will of God and quietly brought the Son of God into the world. So quiet was she about this miracle that even Joseph, her betrothed, was unaware of what was happening! Through the message of an angel, however, he learned God’s plan and courageously took Mary into his home (Mt 1:18-24).

The Cross of Christ became the Tree of Life, and, rather than being forbidden to eat of its fruit, we are invited to do so. The fruit hanging on the tree of the Cross is nothing other than the very Body of Christ, which, when eaten worthily, gives us eternal life. St. Paul reminds us that Jesus took on our human flesh to bestow the grace of holiness and the obedience of faith upon all God’s people through his death and resurrection (Rom 1:1-7). Thus God’s plan is fulfilled!

In every age, God’s people are invited to participate in his mysterious plan for salvation: “Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory!” (Ps 24:7c, 10b). This Sunday’s readings reveal two different responses to the invitation: the proud Ahaz and the humble Joseph. When King Ahaz is invited to make his request to God for a sign, he feigns humility, ironically, by loudly proclaiming his reticence to ask anything of God (Is 7:10-12). God is not amused with his proud show and through the prophet Isaiah declares, “Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God?” (Is 7:13). Joseph, on the other hand, when invited to participate in God’s plan for salvation, neither protests nor questions. He simply does as the angel of the Lord commands (Mt 1:20-24).

God’s plan for our salvation is unfolding in our midst – with or without our participation. As we hear the invitation, how will we respond? Like Adam, Eve and Ahaz, will we be disobedient and proud? Or like Jesus, Mary and Joseph, obedient and humble of heart?