Note: A shorter account of the East of Eden portion was given in Church.
The Passion and Death Account which we just heard, together with the Resurrection Account was the first teaching of the Apostles. It is the foundation of the Christian Faith.
I would like to give you a few thoughts to better understand the beauty of the Passion and Death of the Son of God, our Lord and Brother.
The first part is from East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It is part novel and part historical relating to the Steinbeck family while living in the Salinas Valley in California in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Lee, the Chinese servant of Adam Trask, raises a point he does not understand in the first 16 verses of the 4th Chapter of Genesis with Adam and Samuel Hamilton. It concerns the words spoken by God To Cain after he had killed his brother, Abel.
Lee, the Chinese servant, says: "The more I thought about the story (in the first 16 verses of the 4th Chapter of Genesis), the more profound it became to me. Then I compared the translations we have:and they were fairly close. There was only one place that bothered me. The King James version says this:it is when Jehovah has asked Cain why he was angry (about his sacrifice not being accepted, whereas Abel's was). Jehovah says, ...'And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him'. It was the 'thou shalt' that struck me because it was a promise that Cain would conquer sin...
"Then I got a copy of the American Standard Bible. It was very new then. And it was different in this passage. It says, 'Do thou rule over him'. Now this is very different. This is not a promise, it is an order.
Lee went to his Chinese family in San Francisco "because in our family there are a number of ancient reverend gentlemen who are great scholars. They are thinkers in exactness...They are fine old men.
"I respectfully submitted my problem to one of the sages, read him the story, and told him what I understood from it. The next night four of them met and called me in. We discussed the story all night long....Can you imagine four old gentlemen, the youngest is over ninety now, taking on the study of Hebrew...They went to the root of the matter...
"Every two weeks I went to a meeting with them...After two years we felt we could approach your first sixteen verses of the 4th chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too-'Thou shalt' and 'Do thou.' And this was the gold from our mining: 'Thou mayest.' 'Thou mayest rule over sin.'The old gentlemen...felt the years were well spent...and right now they are studying Greek...
"Don't you see?" (Lee) cried. The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in 'Thou shalt,' meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel-'Thou mayest'-that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if 'Thou mayest'-it is also true that 'Thou mayest not."
And so from two years of study by the four wise Chinese elders and Lee's study as well, we see the birth of 'free will'.
Now Jesus Christ is both true God and true man. We often forget that as a man, He had a free will. Other wise He would not have been truly human. But the Gospels often have Jesus saying: "I have come to do My Father's Will."
At the Last Supper, when Jesus took th3e cup and gave it to the disciples, He said: "This is My Blood which is poured out for many, My Blood which seals God's Covenant." This freedom of choice is also found in the words of some Eucharistic prayers which read: "A death He freely accepted."
After the Last Supper in the Mount of Olives at a place called Gethsemane, Jesus prayed: "Father...my Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet not what I want, but You want." And He repeated it a second time.
On the cross He cried out: "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani", which means "My God, My God, why did You abandon Me?" He showed the loneliness of choosing to follow His Father's Will.
In short, because Jesus was a true human being, He was the One Who chose to follow His Father's Will. He could have done otherwise, but He didn't. So as we now can clearly see the truth that Jesus chose to follow His Father's Will, not His own. Jesus made a free choice to die for us. A free choice!!!