The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

The Eucharist: The Tree of Life

Authored by Markelle Gateley in Issue #10.3 of Catechetical Review

Tapestry art of Jesus on the tree of the Cross

At the origin of human history lies a pivotal moment—the fateful bite from the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. However, this profound narrative doesn’t conclude with the original sin; it finds its ultimate fulfillment in the taste of the Eucharist. Through the sense of taste, which once led to humanity’s fall, we now receive spiritual nourishment and the grace of eternal life, all made possible through the loving sacrifice of Christ.

In the Garden of Eden, God placed two trees—the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. While Adam and Eve were commanded not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, they were free to partake of the Tree of Life, which held the gift of immortality and eternal communion with God.

Tragically, temptation lured Eve into believing the serpent’s deceitful words—that eating the fruit from the forbidden tree would make her wise like God. She tasted the fruit and shared it with Adam, thus disobeying God’s command.

As a consequence of their disobedience, sin entered human nature, and God, in his mercy, expelled them from the Garden of Eden. This act of divine love spared them from eternal separation from God in their fallen state. Eating from the Tree of Life while in a state of sinfulness would have meant an eternity estranged from him. God had angels guard the Tree of Life in his infinite wisdom, ensuring that Adam and Eve would not eat from it on their way out. “He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Gn 3:24).

This denial of access to the Tree of Life foreshadowed the need for a Savior to redeem the human race from sin and open up access to eternal life through faith and grace. That Savior is Jesus Christ, whom the New Testament calls the “last Adam” (1 Cor 15:45). Just as Adam’s sin brought death into the world, Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross brings redemption and the promise of eternal life. Thus, the image of the Tree of Life profoundly connects to the Cross on which Jesus was crucified—a Cross made of a tree, symbolizing the tree of the Fall being redeemed by the tree of the Cross.

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting [email protected]

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