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.
I’ve sometimes been perplexed by this concept. The sin of Adam brought sin into the world…original sin and its terrible consequences on the soul of every person that was ever born, excepting the Blessed Mother. Yet, because it provided a need for our magnificent Savior and Lord Jesus Christ to come and save us, it is a “happy fault”…. so much heartache, yet such a loving redeemer.
I guess part of the explanation can be seen when you look at how the Lord works things to the good. “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Recently we’ve read how Peter denied Jesus three times; Jesus even predicted this terrible sin. This sin devastated Peter… he wept bitterly and it seemed to plague him moving forward. Gee, why didn’t Jesus just lock Peter in the closet until after the resurrection so he wouldn’t sin …… hmmmmmm. Yet was there any “happy fault” in this particular sin?
Well, I think maybe Jesus was preparing Peter for “life after the fault”. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32)
Jesus gave Peter a “heads up” on his weakness that would cause him to sin. He then told him how to respond once he had repented….”strengthen your brothers”. Peter was a different man after this failure. God’s great mercy transformed him. God used this sin to develop a humility in Peter, to transform him into a man of mercy. It prepared him to lead his church… not as a boisterous and impulsive man, but as a humble and merciful and kind man. In that sense, it was a “happy fault”.
Well, what about you and me. Is there any “happy fault” in our life? Does the Lord work even our sin to the good? My quick answer would be “No Way Jose’ ”…. I’m just ashamed of how I let the Lord down by my sin. Yet, it’s worth a little further analysis. I know for me, being convicted of sin and receiving the mercy of the Lord has caused me to appreciate what a great and wonderful savior I have…the Lord has been so kind and merciful to me…. I’ve experience his incredible love for me. His mercy has caused me to give myself more fully to him… to try and love him more and do his will more completely and to be more merciful and compassionate to others. After having received such mercy from the Lord, how can I not have a loving response in return. So, in some very real way, “O HAPPY FAULT” … that has gained for me such a great redeemer.
Well, in my case the transformation is still very much ongoing ..… I am still on the road to having the Lord’s mercy have its ongoing effect. Yet, let’s all be hopeful. His mercy and kindness is still at work…and in the meantime, let’s strengthen our brothers and sisters. “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”