Jesus Christ: The Singularity of Christmas
The Pope’s reflections on the Virgin Birth as a warranty of the divinity of her Son remind me of the events which scientists describe with the term “singularity”. Because a virgin birth cannot be explained by any natural process which precedes it, a Catholic would call it a miracle; but a scientist, sticking closely to his own craft, calls it a “singularity”.
This is how physicists label the Big Bang, a primordial explosion out of nothing that, as far as we now know, initiated the universe. By its very nature, the Big Bang cannot be caused by a natural process. Some scientists, refusing to travel a metaphysical road on their own time, try to hide their confusion in denial, making up various nursery tales to explain the Big Bang, such as the fable of the “bouncing universe”. But for many others, the Big Bang is one of those scientific theories which comes very close to being a proof for the existence of God.
Of course any proof for the existence of God based on a scientific theory would fail if the theory were altered in a significant way by further research, just as any proof based on an historical event would fail if the witnesses to that event could be shown to be mistaken. Yet the idea of Singularity remains valuable as a means of marking the limits of nature and the need for something that goes beyond nature.
The Virgin Birth cannot be proven, even by the testimony of those with an absolute trust in the veracity of Mary, for none were in a position to monitor her every moment. But it is a logical explanation for later events that many did witness directly—namely the remarkable miracles of Mary’s Son, His cruel and certain death, and His subsequent Resurrection. The Immaculate Conception is in an even more obscure category, for it could not be proved by any number of witnesses who might have surrounded St. Anne and her illustrious daughter at every moment of their existence. Yet it too serves to explain—and be explained by—the remarkable career of Mary’s only Son.
The new translation of the Order of the Mass in English states that Son of God was “incarnate of the Virgin Mary”—a trifle awkward, perhaps, but far more accurate than “born of the Virgin Mary”, which is not what the original Latin says. The Incarnation is a moment of conception and not of birth. The Virgin Birth is a consequence of the Incarnation, just as the Immaculate Conception is a fitting preparation for it. And it is the fact of the Incarnation itself which ultimately explains Mary’s Son. It turns out he is God’s Son as well.
Jesus Christ is a singularity Who cannot be understood as the result of any previous natural process. Innumerable smaller singularities—the prophecies, the teachings, the miracles, the Church, the sacraments, the martyrs, the saints—simply serve to throw the main singularity into sharper relief. Here we have heaven and earth in God’s only begotten Son, the Lord of Lords and the Uncaused Cause—oh, and the explanation for the Big Bang, too.
This is hard to grasp, but we are being given yet another chance. For here he comes again, the little child we never could teach to restrain his love.
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