Coming home from Mass one Sunday morning, a mother decided to quiz her teenage son. “Did you enjoy Mass?” she asked. “It was alright,” came the indifferent response. “What was the homily about?” “It was about Jesus, and the priest was all for him.” “Was that all?” his mother asked. “No, it was also about sin, and the priest was against it.”
A superficial reading of today’s passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans can lead us to a similar response. St. Paul compares the “trespass of one man, Adam”—which led to death—to the “righteousness of one man, Christ”—which leads to life. This classic comparison between Adam and Jesus, between disobedience and obedience, and between death and life lies at the heart of the Church’s teaching on Original Sin and the promise of justification for those who believe and are baptized. It tells us that Adam’s first sin had consequences that are still with us today, but that Our Lord’s complete obedience to God also has eternal—and even more powerful—consequences for us. Adam’s sin led to our condemnation, but Our Lord’s obedience can lead all who believe to eternal life with God.
This is good news, and also very good theology. But there’s something else in this passage that God wants to write on our hearts: when Jesus died on the Cross, he unleashed a river of grace for the whole world. This grace has all the power of God to overcome sin and death and the control they used to have over humanity.
This superabundant grace flows out to us day in and day out. It’s like the sun, which is constantly shining, even if there are clouds in the sky. Just as the sun can’t be turned off, neither will the light of God’s grace ever stop shining, offering us warmth and clarity. Even when our sins act like heavy clouds, the grace is still there. All we need to do is remove the clouds through repentance, and God’s love and grace will shine on us once more. That’s how faithful God is to his promises.