Week XXIX: Tuesday

“Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world,h and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned ...” (Romans 5:12.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“Perhaps someone will object that the woman sinned before the man and even that the serpent sinned before her and elsewhere the apostle says: “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived.” How is it then that sin seems to have come in through one man rather than through one woman? Here the apostle sticks to the order of nature, and thus when he speaks about sin, because of which death has passed to all men, he attributes the line of human descent, which has succumbed to this death because of sin, not to the woman but to the man. For the descent is not reckoned from the woman but from the man, as the apostle says elsewhere: “For man was not made from woman but woman from man.”

In this context the word world is to be understood either as the place in which people live or as the earthly and corporeal life in which death has its location. It is to this world, that is, to this earthly life, that the saints say that they are crucified and dead.

The death which entered through sin is without doubt that death of which the prophet speaks when he says: “The soul which sins shall surely die.” One might rightly say that our bodily death is a shadow of this death. For whenever a soul dies, the body is obliged to follow suit, like a shadow. Now if someone objects that the Savior did not sin, nor did his soul die because of sin, yet nevertheless his body suffered death, we would answer that the Savior, although he did not himself sin, nevertheless by the assumption of human flesh is said to have become sin. As a result, although he owed his death to nothing else, nor was he bound to anything outside himself, yet for our salvation he voluntarily took on this shadow as part of his incarnation. As he himself said: “I have power to lay my soul down, and I have power to take it again.”

The apostle stated most categorically that the death of sin has passed to all men because all have sinned. Therefore even if you say that Abel was righteous, still he cannot be excused, for all have sinned, including him.” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans)

Almighty ever-living God,
grant that we may always conform our will to Yours
and serve Your majesty in sincerity of heart.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen