Easter Sunday – O Happy Fault!
At the Easter Vigil when the Exultet is sung, we hear the words O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer! Reflecting on these words can help us understand what Christ has done for us by His death and resurrection.
When the human being was first created, he was in a state of original justice. There was a relationship of trust and friendship between God and humanity. His body and soul were so united in accordance with God’s will, that the human soul had an inherent disposition which preserved the body from death and corruption.
The first sin of humanity was a betrayal of this trusting friendship with God. Humanity desired the wisdom and knowledge of God so that he might become equal to God and no longer subject to His will. With this great rebellion, the perfect order and harmony of creation was lost and humankind became subject to death. Even though this is all we deserve, God did not abandon us in this sorry state. He sent His only Son into the world so that death could be conquered and humankind’s original friendship with God could be restored.
In St John’s gospel we read that the High Priest Caiaphas said it is better that one man should die for the people, rather than that the whole nation should perish. The reasoning Caiaphas uses is rather like the reasoning some modern utilitarian philosophers use. But Jesus did not accept His own death because He wanted to preserve the status quo; rather, He freely accepted His death because He wanted God’s reigning presence to break forth into the world. In Christ’s death and resurrection we see that God’s justice is real. He vindicates the innocent; He is full of mercy, compassion and forgiveness; He loves us more than we can know.
With Christ’s conquering of death, it is not simply a matter of things being restored to how they were before the Fall – much more has happened. God has freely given to humanity that which humanity originally tried to take by force. Because God became truly like us, and died and rose again for us, we now have the opportunity of becoming truly like Him.