“Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age . . . with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come” (Mark 10:29–30). The above words of Christ from Mark’s Gospel tie our readings together by reminding us that both trial and hope coexist in this life.

As we read about the Fall of man, we are reminded of the grave sin of Adam and Eve. Their sin ushers in a long age of shame, darkness, and confusion, marked by enmity between mankind and the devil. The dejection resulting from this punishment is expressed by the psalmist, who says, “If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand?” (Ps 130:3). The state of sin in which man finds himself bears bitter fruit in the attitude of the scribes toward Jesus, who blaspheme the Holy Spirit by attributing the works of Christ to Satan.

Despite this depravity, our readings are also full of hope. At the end of the account of the Fall, God promises a Savior: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel” (Gen 3:15). This has been seen from the beginning of the Church as a veiled reference to the privileged “offspring” of “the woman,” Jesus, the son of the New Eve, Mary. He will fight Satan and crush his head. Even in the depths of original sin, we will receive a Savior.

The psalmist, too, does not stop with darkness. “But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered” (Ps. 130:4). St. Paul, while describing his body as “wasting away,” describes his inner self as “being renewed day by day,” awaiting “a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven” (2 Cor 4:16; 5:1). And Jesus, despite hatred and rejection, rejoices in the kinship of those who do the will of the Father: “Here are my mother and my brothers” (Mark 3:34).

This complex picture reflects the dramatic journey of the saints toward heaven. In this life, we are corrupted by sin, weakened by the battle between light and darkness, weighed down by our iniquities, tempted to reject the love of God. Even when we sacrifice house, brothers, sisters, and all the rest for Jesus and the Gospel, we are to expect the hundredfold “with persecutions.” But at the end of it all is the promise of forgiveness for the contrite of heart, the promise of the victory of Christ over the offspring of the serpent, the promise of an eternal dwelling with Our Lord in heaven.

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