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Catholic Activity: Explanation of the Verse: 'Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature'

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"And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man." Today there is much confusion about whether or not Jesus knew he was God. This footnote (No. 52) taken from The Navarre Bible, St. Luke provides an explanation.

DIRECTIONS

As far as his human nature was concerned Jesus matured like anyone else. His growth in wisdom should be seen as referring to experiential knowledge — knowledge acquired by his mind from sense experience and general experience of life. It can also be taken as referring to the product of the external expression of his wisdom: in this sense everything he did was done perfectly, in keeping with whatever age he was at the time.

As man Jesus had three kinds of knowledge:

  1. The knowledge of the blessed (vision of the divine essence) by virtue of the hypostatic union (the union of his human nature with his divine nature in the one Person of the Word). This knowledge did not allow of any increase.

  2. Infused knowledge, which perfected his intellect and which meant that he knew everything, even hidden things: thus he was able to read men's hearts. Here again his knowledge was complete: it could not grow.

  3. Acquired knowledge: he acquired new knowledge through sense experience and reflection; logically, this knowledge increased as time went by.
As far as grace, in the strict sense of the word, was concerned, Jesus could not grow. From the first instant of his conception he possessed grace in all its fullness because he was true God, by virtue of the hypostatic union. As St. Thomas explains: "The end of grace is the union of the rational creature with God. But there can neither be nor be conceived a greater union of the rational creature with God than that which is in the Person of Christ.... Hence it is clear that the grace of Christ cannot be increased on the part of grace. But neither can it be increased on the part of Christ, since Christ as man was a true and full 'comprehensor' from the first instant of his conception. Hence there could have been no increase of grace in him" (Summa theologiae, III, q.7, a.12).

However, we can speak of his growing in grace in the sense of the effects of grace. In the last analysis, this matter is one of the mysteries of our faith, which our minds cannot fully grasp. How small God would be if we were able fully to fathom this mystery! That Christ should conceal his infinite power and wisdom by becoming a Child teaches our pride a great lesson.

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