“Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…”
Why does anyone need forgiveness? Because at some point in our lives, we hurt God in the same way that Adam and Eve hurt God in the Garden of Eden.
Most of us know the story pretty well: God created Adam and Eve and told them not to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then Eve gets tempted by the serpent, both she and Adam eat the fruit, they get in major trouble and God banishes them from Eden. (Seriously, Adam and Eve. You had one job!)
The banishment from Eden seems like a downer ending for Adam and Eve, but remember that the word “genesis” means beginning. This is only the first chapter of what we now call “salvation history.” Even as He gives punishment to Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, Divine Mercy was already at work.
So how exactly does God grant mercy on Adam and Eve? Take a look Genesis 3:15
“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
For the longest time, I did not understand this verse. I used to read it literally, seeing God addressing the snake throughout the entire verse. But there’s a deeper meaning to the verse. The Catechism of the Catholic Church cites this verse as the “proto-evangelium,” the first Gospel, the first prophecy in Genesis that foretells Christ conquering death and sin. How exactly does this verse foreshadow Christ?
Christ is the descendant of Adam and Eve, which means that he is the “offspring” that will strike at the snake’s head.
But wait! There’s more!
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Proto-evangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the ‘new Eve.’ Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.”
Basically, Jesus and Mary are both the key to salvation history. Jesus becomes the new Adam and Mary, the new Eve. If you’re looking for Biblical evidence, there are two verses that offer proof:
One is at the Wedding of Cana, when Jesus calls Mary “Woman” just before He is about to perform His first miracle. The other is at the Cross, when he called Mary “Woman” one last time and asked John to take care of her, saying “Behold your Mother.” In asking John to take care of Mary, Jesus metaphorically made Mary our own spiritual mother.
Need more biblical evidence?
Check out this passage from Revelations 12:
A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth.
Compare that with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The lady in the image is standing with the sun behind her, the moon at her feet, and wears a mantle that looks like the night sky. She wears a cinture, indicating that she is with child. Also, note that the name Guadalupe basically means “the one who crushes the serpent.”
O happy fault that gained for us so great a redeemer. Blessed be the name of Jesus and Mary! Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.
1.How do you think Adam and Eve’s fall from grace relates to your life?
2.What is your perspective on Mary and her role in salvation history and Divine Mercy?
Action: Today, in your prayer time, ask Jesus and Mary to help soften your heart. If you have any resentment or lingering anger, ask Jesus and Mary to help you let it go. Listen to Audrey Assad’s “New Every Morning” because it summarizes how the story all began and how the story continues on now. In spite of the Fall, God’s mercy and Jesus’s promise allows us to rise above it.