Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Some musings...

My friend L., who also teaches CCD at our parish, emailed me with a question related to whether Jesus, as a baby and young child, knew he was the Messiah. Here's what I replied:

Let's look at this logically. As Catholics we take it as given Jesus is/was fully man and--follow me here--fully God. Now, if He was fully God, He couldn't have just have woken up one fine morning and His 2nd Person of the Trinity-ness just snapped into place. To be fully God, means His (fully) human nature was always informed by His (fully) divine nature. It seems logical the manifestation of His divine mission was, in a way, "guided" by His human circumstances. This is why we don't see Jesus quoting the law and the prophets from manger.

The various intersections of His divine and human natures seem to have been designed to provide the least amount of fuel necessary (let that sink in for a moment) to the faith of the people of Israel. To have Jesus going beyond this would have made it less possible for people to react to Him out of faith and more out of plain evidence. Notice Christ didn't come as the conquering Messiah, but as a weak, defenseless baby. Jesus was also ALWAYS aware of the timing issues related to beginning to manifest His divine nature more and more fully, which is why He reacts the way He does at the wedding at Cana. Quid dicit Scriptura? St. John's account of the Gospel (2:4) is clear: "And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? My hour is not yet come."

Also, St. John is clear from the get-go (1:1): "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." This means to me Jesus (i.e. The Word) always was, even before His incarnation. It seems odd indeed that He, through Whom all was created, would have a memory lapse of His divinity from birth through, say, age 12. There is also a reason why Christ was discussing and astounding everyone at the temple at the age of TWELVE. Because by tradition at 12, He would only be a boy, since at 13 He'd be Bar Mitzvah-ed and therefore a man in the faith. To have all that wisdom at age 13 would have been considered very impressive, but at 12--sort of the pivot-point--it would have been nothing short of astonishing. Scripture is trying to emphasize Christ's knowledge of His divine mission, messianic destiny and all that as a boy.

Lastly, IF Christ suddenly had all this sort of snap into place at some point after age five but before age 12, isn't it a touch weird that Scripture AND Tradition are woefully silent?

So, um, yeah. If I had to bet, I'd say Jesus was always aware of His divinity and Messianic role. (I'd never given it any thought of this before!)

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam,