The other day, I heard someone saying that after the sin of Adam, there is no going back to what Adam once was. There is no going back to the purity of the first Adam. There is no going back to the Tree of Life.
While it is true, we are not expected to become just like Adam and remain there, we are expected to go back to the purity found in him so then we can transcend that holiness through theosis. If it is impossible to go back and be perfect, Jesus would not command us to be perfect like the heavenly Father is perfect. He would not demand the impossible. And so, being made perfect in grace, we are called to partake of the Tree of Life, finding it is Jesus, the fruit of Mary’s womb.
Jesus was born in a manger, a feed house, and offers himself as the new Tree of Life. If we partake of him, we can receive eternal life. The fruit of Mary’s womb has come into the world to restore Adam, and with Adam, the whole of humanity. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22 RSV). The innocence of Adam and Eve can be found once again in the world.The Troparion of the Forefeast says it all:
Make ready, Bethlelem, Eden has been opened to all./ Prepare Ephratha, for the Tree of Life has blossomed in the cave from the Virgin./ Her womb was a spiritual paradise whence came the Divine Plant./ If we eat it we shall live and not die like Adam./ Christ is born to raise up the image that of old had fallen.
Christ has opened up paradise, and the Tree of Life is once again to be found in the world, if only the people of the world have eyes to see it. It is hidden in plain sight, able to be eaten but never consumed, giving those who partake of it the food which has been put on display in the manger. It is as if we are told: come and eat, Christ is born. Come and eat the bread of life in the house of bread. Come and eat, for Christ the Savior is born. It is the mystery of mysteries, which calls us to cry out in awe:
He Who holds the earth in His hands/ is seen in Bethlehem wrapped in swaddling bands./ We sing before the feast to her who bore Him./ She rejoices as a Mother as she nurses the Son of God (Kontakion of the Forefeast).
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