CCC 388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story’s ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.1 We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. The Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to “convict the world concerning sin”,2 by revealing him who is its Redeemer.
CCC 397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of.3 All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.
CCC 400 The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.4 Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man.5 Because of man, creation is now subject “to its bondage to decay”.6 Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will “return to the ground”,7 for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history.8
CCC 402 All men are implicated in Adam’s sin, as St. Paul affirms: “By one man’s disobedience many (that is, all men) were made sinners”: “sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.”9 The Apostle contrasts the universality of sin and death with the universality of salvation in Christ. “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.”10
CCC 411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who, because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.11 Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium 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.12
CCC 532 Jesus’ obedience to his mother and legal father fulfils the fourth commandment perfectly and was the temporal image of his filial obedience to his Father in heaven. The everyday obedience of Jesus to Joseph and Mary both announced and anticipated the obedience of Holy Thursday: “Not my will. ..”13 The obedience of Christ in the daily routine of his hidden life was already inaugurating his work of restoring what the disobedience of Adam had destroyed.14
CCC 602 Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. .. with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake.”15 Man’s sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.16 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”17
CCC 605 At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God’s love excludes no one: “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”18 He affirms that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many”; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us.19 The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.”20
CCC 612 The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father’s hands in his agony in the garden at Gethsemani,21 making himself “obedient unto death”. Jesus prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. ..”22 Thus he expresses the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death.23 Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the “Author of life”, the “Living One”.24 By accepting in his human will that the Father’s will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”25
CCC 615 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”26 By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who “makes himself an offering for sin”, when “he bore the sin of many”, and who “shall make many to be accounted righteous”, for “he shall bear their iniquities”.27 Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.28
CCC 1008 Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin.29 Even though man’s nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.30 “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered.31
CCC 1009 Death is transformed by Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part of the human condition. Yet, despite his anguish as he faced death, he accepted it in an act of complete and free submission to his Father’s will.32 The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing.33
1 Cf. Rom 5:12-21.
2 Jn 16:8.
3 Cf. Gen 3:1-11; Rom 5:19.
4 Cf. Gen 3:7-16.
5 Cf. Gen 3:17,19.
6 Rom 8:21.
7 Gen 3:19; cf. 2:17.
8 Cf. Rom 5:12.
9 Rom 5:12,19.
10 Rom 5:18.
11 Cf. 1 Cor 15:21-22,45; Phil 2:8; Rom 5:19-20.
12 Cf. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus: DS 2803; Council of Trent: DS 1573.
13 Lk 22:42.
14 Cf. Rom 5:19.
15 I Pt 1:18-20.
16 Cf. Rom 5:12; I Cor 15:56.
17 2 Cor 5:21; cf. Phil 2:7; Rom 8:3.
18 Mt 18:14.
19 Mt 20:28; cf. Rom 5:18-19.
20 Council of Quiercy (853): DS 624; cf. 2 Cor 5:15; I Jn 2:2.
21 Cf. Mt 26:42; Lk 22:20.
22 Phil 2:8; Mt 26:39; cf. Heb 5:7-8.
23 Cf. Rom 5:12; Heb 4:15.
24 Cf. Acts 3:15; Rev 1:17; Jn 1:4; 5:26.
25 1 Pt 224; cf. Mt 26:42.
26 Rom 5:19.
27 Is 53:10-12.
28 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1529.
29 Cf. Gen 2:17; 3:3; 3:19; Wis 1:13; Rom 5:12; 6:23; DS 1511.
30 Cf. Wis 2:23-24.
31 GS 18 § 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:26.
32 Cf. Mk 14:33-34; Heb 5:7-8.
33 Cf. Rom 5:19-21.