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But when the tenants see the son, they say to themselves,

This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inher-


. The situation here is one in which tenants could

realistically expect to inherit the property of an absentee

landlord upon the death of the last heir. Seeing the son,

the tenants in this parable presume (wrongly) that the

landowner is dead, and they kill the son and heir in order

to get the vineyard for themselves—thus taking by violence

what would eventually have been theirs as an inheritance,

or, more to the point, as a kind of gift.

Here we are close to the nature of sin—not only that

of the fallen angels, but also that of Adam and Eve as it is

recounted in the book of Genesis. Indeed, it is precisely the

devil, in the formof the serpent, who suggests to Adam and

Eve the very sin that caused his own downfall. Encouraging

them to eat from the only tree in the garden which God has

forbidden to them, he concludes enticingly:

For God knows

that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will

be like God, knowing good and evil

(cf. Gn 3:5). This pri-

mordial sin of wanting to take from God what could only

be given as a gift is tantamount to a rejection of the gift as

such, the gift that would be nothing less than a share in his

own divine life. Who can have the communion of life with

God as his due? Only the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No

creaturely person—angelic or human—clearly. To become

“like” God in this sense can only come as a gift. The first

sin was not simply the violation of a seemingly arbitrary

command on the part of our first parents—to cite the fre-

quent caricature—but a serious transgression affecting their

relationship with God in a profound way.

To understand why this sin of our first parents had

consequences for them and for us, and why God willed

to take time to remedy these consequences through the

Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of his Only