An old Jewish story recalls Adam’s quest to find the “oil of mercy,” which is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI recalled in a 2010 homily an old Jewish legend that featured Adam searching for the “oil of mercy.”
An ancient Jewish legend from the apocryphal book “The life of Adam and Eve” recounts that, in his final illness, Adam sent his son Seth together with Eve into the region of Paradise to fetch the oil of mercy, so that he could be anointed with it and healed. The two of them went in search of the tree of life, and after much praying and weeping on their part, the Archangel Michael appeared to them, and told them they would not obtain the oil of the tree of mercy and that Adam would have to die.
When Christians later found this story, they added to it, seeing in this story a prophetic image of Jesus and his “oil of mercy.”
Later, Christian readers added a word of consolation to the Archangel’s message, to the effect that after 5,500 years the loving King, Christ, would come, the Son of God who would anoint all those who believe in him with the oil of his mercy. “The oil of mercy from eternity to eternity will be given to those who are reborn of water and the Holy Spirit. Then the Son of God, Christ, abounding in love, will descend into the depths of the earth and will lead your father into Paradise, to the tree of mercy.”
It is a beautiful image, one that is realized in the sacraments of Baptism and reconciliation, where penitents encounter first-hand the “oil of mercy,” washing away their sins.
Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls how, “The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners” (CCC 1846).
May we always find God’s mercy as an “oil” that heals us and brings us into closer union with God.
God is mercy and when we let his mercy touch our lives, we are truly healed and given the fullness of life.