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SPANISH VERSION »
THE PROTO-EVANGELIUM
Fr. Steven Scherrer
Homily of Saturday, 5th Week of the Year, February 14, 2009
Gen 3:9-24; Ps 89; Mk 8:1-10


"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" (Gen 3:15).


This text is known as the proto-evangelium, or the beginning of the Gospel, the good news of salvation. It says that the seed or descendent of Eve will wound the head of the serpent; and that the serpent will wound the heel of the seed of Eve. We see here the victory of the seed of Eve is indicated and promised, in that he will wound the serpent's head, something more serious than the serpent wounding Eve's seed's heel.


This was fulfilled in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus is Eve's seed, and on the cross he wounds the serpent's head and destroys the results of the sin of Adam and Eve. Jesus destroys the serpent's work in tempting them to sin.


During the Old Testament, the Israelites awaited the coming of the seed of Eve, and were justified in advance by their faith in him (Rom 4:3). Abraham saw him and rejoiced (Jn 8:56), and was justified by his faith (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3), even though this seed had not yet come. It was Jesus Christ who justified Abraham by his death on the cross, through the faith of Abraham (Rom 4:3). God justified Abraham ahead of time through the future death of his Son on the cross. In other words, God forgave and justified Abraham, counting his faith for righteousness: "And he believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness" (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3). God did this because he knew that Abraham's sin would be fully and definitively propitiated and expiated in the death of Jesus Christ. Everything, therefore, is centered on Jesus Christ and his expiatory and propitiatory death on the cross.


Jesus said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad" (Jn 8:56). In this way all the Old Testament saints saw Jesus Christ ahead of time, and hoped in him as their future Messiah, who would definitively save them; and through their faith, they were justified.


We, on the other hand, look back to our Redeemer, just as the Old Testament saints looked forward to the Messiah who was still to come. We put the same faith in him as they did, and are in the same way justified through our faith in him who suffered for us, expiating our sins by assuming into himself the just punishment for them (2 Cor 5:21), so that his righteousness might become ours. Our sins are made his (Is 53:5-6) so that, in dying for them, his righteousness might become ours: "For our sake he [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21).


 


 

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