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The MOST Theological Collection: Outline of Christology

"VIII. His Entry into the World"


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As soon as the Virgin Mary spoke her fiat, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. He entered into this world. Hebrews 10. 5-7: "When Christ came into the world, He said: 'Sacrifices and offerings you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me... you took no pleasure in burnt offerings and sin offerings. Then I said: Behold I come to do your will, O God. '"

The genre of Hebrews is mostly homiletic. Therefore, can we be sure this happened in the sense that seems obvious? Yes, for although His human senses were not yet formed at the moment of conception, - an ordinary child therefore has no channel of information at all - but He did have a channel, the vision of God, which His human soul saw from the first instant of conception. Pius XII taught, in Mystici Corporis (DS 3812): "The most loving knowledge of this kind, with which the Divine Redeemer pursued us from the first moment of the incarnation, surpasses the diligent grasp of any human mind; for by that blessed vision, which He enjoyed when just received in the womb of the Mother of God, He has all the members of the Mystical Body continuously and perpetually present to Himself, and embraces them with saving love. In the manger, on the cross, in the eternal glory of the Father, Christ has all the members of the Church before Him, and joined to Him far more clearly and far more lovingly than a mother has a son on her lap, or than each one knows and loves himself." Karl Rahner tried to discard statements such as this as "marginal and incidental" (In: "Dogmatic Reflections on the Knowledge and Self-Consciousness of Christ" in Theological Investigations tr. K. H. Kruger, Helicon, May 30, 1997 Baltimore, 1966, V. 213-14. The German there has "randhaften beilaufigen."). But it is not just incidental. In a document on the Mystical Body to say that Jesus knew those whom He loved is an essential connection. Further, Pius XII, in Humani generis in 1950 (DS 3885) wrote: "Nor should one think that the things proposed in Encyclical Letters do not of themselves call for assent, on the plea that in them the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Magisterium. For these things are taught by the Ordinary Magisterium, to which this also applies: "He who hears you hears me"... . But if the Popes in their acta deliberately pass judgment on a matter controverted up to then, it is clear to all that according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, the question can no longer be considered open to free discussion among theologians." Now the modern discussion of the human knowledge of Christ became specially strong with the Publication by P. Galtier of L'unité du Christ - Etre, Personne, Conscience - (Beauchesne, Paris) in 1939. So Pius XII in 1943 in Mystici Corporis was speaking precisely it the context of the debate, and was giving judgment on it. This is far from incidental. It meets the conditions specified in Humani generis Still further, there are follow up documents teaching the same thing: Pius XII, Sempiternus Rex, 1951 (DS 3905) and Pius XII, Haurietis aquas (DS 3924) and even further, the Doctrinal Congregation, on July 24, 1966 (ASS 58. 660) complained: "There creeps about a certain humanism in Christology because of which Christ is reduced to the condition of a mere man, who gradually acquired the consciousness of His divine Sonship." So it is evident that the Pope did intend to settle the debate.

And also we must remember that all theologians admit that if a doctrine is taught repeatedly on the Ordinary Magisterium level, it is infallible. That is the case with our doctrine.

R. E. Brown many times over has been campaigning for ignorance in Jesus. In St. Anthony's Messenger, May, 1971, pp. 47-48, he dared to say Jesus had some superstitions: "The New Testament gives us no reason to think that Jesus and Paul were not deadly serious about the demonic world... . I do not believe the demons inhabit desert places or the upper air as Jesus and Paul thought... . I see no way to get around the difficulty except by saying that Jesus and Paul were wrong on this point. They accepted the beliefs of their times about demons, but those beliefs were superstitious." Brown refers to Mt. 12. 43-45 where Jesus tells a sort of parable: When the evil spirit is cast out of a man, he wanders through desert places seeking rest, goes back to the man he once possessed, finds him clean, gets reinforcements, 7 devils worse than himself."And the last state of that man is worse than the first. So also it will be with this wicked generation." We can see it is a sort of parable from the final line, which makes the comparison: Jesus came to break the power of satan over the Jews. They reject Him, and fall back worse than before. Brown ignored the genre of the passage. On doers not press all details in a parable. And also, the desert places could easily mean that the devil finds no place to rest once he has been expelled.

The other passage Brown has in mind is Ephesians 2. 1-2 where Paul says that they once walked following "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience." In Colossians and Ephesians Paul is working against some opponents - either Jewish Apocalyptic speculators or Gnostics -- who spoke of spirit powers whom they said we need to worship in addition to Christ. Paul is hitting them within their own framework. So again, Brown missed the context.

In Jesus God and Man Brown accumulated numerous Gospel texts to show ignorance in Jesus. (All are answered in detail in The Consciousness of Christ, Christendom Press, Front Royal, 1980). In fact, in the same book on pp. 42 -43, Brown admits:"... the biblical evidence does not decide the theological problem or conclusively support one theory over another." Why then, since he admits his attempts from Scripture prove nothing, does he not just accept the teachings of the Church? But Brown thinks his claims of ignorance in Jesus are essential. In Biblical Reflections on Crises Facing the Church, (Paulist, 1975, p. 35, n. 27) he says: "All modern christology is based on the theory that the human knowledge of Jesus was limited." Then he can say that Jesus did nut know enough to directly found a Church or the priesthood: both evolved in the second century. In his Priest and Bishop, (Paulist, 1970, p. 19-20) he says that by picking followers to proclaim the Kingdom,"Jesus formed the nucleus of what would develop into a community and ultimately into the Church." Cf. also his Critical Meaning of the Bible (Paulist, 1981) p. 92. In fact, in his Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (Paulist, 1973, p. 46) he seems to imply that to hold the virginal conception would make a problem: then Mary and Joseph would have told Him, and He would not have been so ignorant.

Even without the help of the Magisterium, by pure theological reasoning, we can see that Jesus not merely happened to have the vision of God, but could not have lacked it. For there are two requirements for any soul to have that vision: (1)The power of the soul to know must be elevated by grace - of course He had that; (2) the divinity needs to join itself directly to the human mind, without even an image in between. (When we see someone, we take in an image - images are finite, and so could not let us know God who is Infinite (cf. DS 1000). Now ordinarily when we put together a human body and a human soul, this becomes a human person. In Jesus it did not - His whole humanity was assumed by the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Hence, not just His human mind, but His whole humanity was joined to the divinity, with no image in between. So the vision in His human soul was inevitable. (Cf. again The Consciousness of Christ, pp. 165-73).

The fact that He had this vision had enormous consequences. Jesus began to suffer from the first moment of His conception. When we fear something dreadful is to come, we can take refuge in the thought that perhaps it may not happen, or it may not be so bad. But He had no such refuge. The vision showed Him with merciless certainty every horrid detail of what was to come. He had that from conception until it really happened. A constant irritation will wear the skin thin. In much the same way, it must have been eating on Him. On two occasions He decided to let us see something of what was inside Him. In Luke 12. 50 He said: "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished." That is: I have to be plunged into deep suffering. I cannot be comfortable until I get it over with. A few days before His death He was speaking to a crowd in Jerusalem, and He allowed His feelings to show - of course He could have kept them in. He said in John 12. 27: "Now my heart is troubled. What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour!" Then finally, in the Garden of Gethsemani, the nightmare caught up with Him. He could not scream as we do in a dream and wake up and find it is only a dream. No, it was there, it had caught Him. His interior tension was so severe that He suffered what is medically called hematidrosis: the blood vessels near the sweat glands break from extreme tension, and pour out real blood through those openings.

It is true that some manuscripts omit the ine about the sweat of blood - the MSS are about evenly divided. But in the context of what went before, which we just outlined, we believe the line is genuine. And He suffered actual fear as Mark 14. 34 tells us. How is it possible? Because He had decided, as we gather from Philippians 2. 7 that He would never use His divine power to protect Himself. So His humanity had to face a horrible death. Some have said since He knew He would rise He should not have feared. But that would not make the nails painless!.

It was not just the physical suffering that caused this stress: it was the thought of rejection by our sins. He knew, because of that vision, all sins of all times, past, present, future. He saw that rejection. The pain of a rejection is in proportion to two factors: what form the rejection takes, and the love for the one who rejects. The form it took: it was not just a shove in a crowd, no, sin wanted to kill Him, kill in the most painful way. That pain was multiplied by His love - which as that of God is infinite. It is strictly beyond our comprehension.

John Paul II, in a General Audience of Nov 30, 1988, spoke beautifully about the "abandonment" of Jesus on the Cross [emphasis added]: "In fact, if Jesus feels abandoned by the Father, He knows, however that that is not really so. He Himself said: 'I and the Father are one. ' (Jn 10:30), and speaking of His future Passion He said: 'I am not alone, for the Father is with me' (Jn 16:32). Dominant in His mind Jesus has the clear vision of God and the certainty of His union with the Father. But in the sphere bordering on the senses, and therefore more subject to the impressions, emotions, and influences of the internal and external experiences of pain, Jesus' human soul is reduced to a wasteland, and He no longer feels the presence of the Father."

If we think of a mountain 25, 000 feet high, the peak may stand out through black clouds on some days, while all the lower slopes are engulfed in storm and darkness. Similarly, in a human being, there are many levels of operation. All the lower levels may be in great distress, while peace still remains on the highest point. Cf. The Consciousness of Christ, pp. 151-53.

So Hans Urs Von Balthasar is very wrong when in First Glance at Adrienne von Speyr he thinks on the Saturday after His death, Jesus wandered through the realm of the dead, without any light, and could not at all find the Father!

NOTE: What other consequences were there of this vision in His human soul? It would not exempt Him from working to learn His native language and carpentry. For the vision did supply all the information, but it did not supply the dexterity of His muscles and coordination. He could have supplied this miraculously, but He had emptied Himself (Phil. 2. 7) and so would not do this. So He might have had baby talk, as He struggled to adjust His speaking apparatus to Hebrew and/or Aramaic sounds. The same would be true of learning to walk. Cf. Wm. G. Most "Jesus Christ, Yesterday, Today and Forever" in HPR June 1983, and "Did Jesus Ever Worry? in HPR, Nov. 1985.

The suffering of His Mother at the cross is likewise beyond comprehension. Spiritual perfection in any soul consists in complete alignment of the will with the will of God. But in that dark hour, the Father willed that His Son die, die then, die so horribly. The Son willed the same. Therefore she was called on -it was the continuation of her fiat to positively will that He die, die then, die so horribly. And that went most directly counter to her love for Him, her God. Pius IX told us, in the document defining the Immaculate Conception, that her holiness -which in practice is the same as love of God - was so great at the start of her life, that "none greater under God can be thought of, and no one but God can comprehend it." Not even the highest cherubim and seraphim can understand it. Only God Himself can understand her love, even at the start - and it had grown at a rate comparable to geometric progression all her life. So the sight of what He suffered caused a pain multiplied by a love that is, quite literally, incomprehensible to anyone but God Himself. So we must say her suffering was incomprehensible to us. She willed to undertake that because the Father willed it, her Son willed it, for our salvation. Of it Vatican II taught (Lumen gentium 61): "... in suffering with Him as He died on the cross, she cooperated in the work of the Savior, in an altogether singular way, by obedience, faith, hope and burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls. As a result, she is our Mother in the order of grace."

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