In Advent it is fruitful for us to consider the Second Coming as we prepare to celebrate the First Coming. "God became Man so that Man might become God," St. Athanasius wrote in De Incarnatione. Why? He was the Second Adam, the new Adam, the perfect Man, everything Adam was supposed to be and more, infused with the Divine life!
Much is made of Christ's parallels with Adam, His title "Son of Man," teaching us that He was fully human and that, by His humanity, we men benefit by His salvific work. Yet the most illustrating moment in Our Lord's life that proves He was the new Adam was in a moment when He did the opposite of Adam, the defining moment for the human race as I see it. In the Garden of Eden Satan, that lying
rat serpent, tempts Eve into eating the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, going so far as to tell Even that she and Adam will be "like God." The serpent lied to Eve, but Adam knew better. Far from being like unto God, Man fell and became "human" as we know humans, creatures that die.
Our Lord, also in a garden—at Gethsemane, was tempted in His Agony to make full use of His Divinity and "let the cup pass" from Him. Yet in His moment of trial He did not. He embraced the purpose of His Incarnation and made full use of His humanity by dying in it and suffering greatly. Adam decided against his purpose and nature in favor of one he thought easier to live and superior in state, falling into death. Christ took up His purpose in His assumed humanity, taking on a world of suffering with Him, and, while dying, rose up to life.
This is suffering. Far from permitting pain with fists clenched and knuckle white, we should allow some degree of suffering where God offers it to us. He will never give us a cross we cannot bear, even if the burden seems tantalizingly brutal during the moments of pain. We must not be masochists and love suffering. We must embrace the Cross where we find it and make use of our redeemed nature, redeemed by the new Adam, He Who will be born in nineteen days.