Two into one won’t go?

All right – so you’ve asked for it! We now have the opportunity to exchange, and perhaps develop, our understanding of the Incarnation. I have no reason to suppose that my understanding is as great, or greater, than anyone else who contributes to the Blog. So I am going to confine myself to setting the scene. If I use, as I will, definitive language remember that I am only expressing my own opinion.

We are in the realm of mystery. This does not mean that we simply put a mystery on one side because we know we cannot understand. Mysteries are there to be explored: we must understand and benefit from what we can learn. There would be no point in God presenting us with a mystery if he did not want us to deepen our knowledge through it, while remembering that the whole truth is beyond the human mind.

I start with the concepts of person and nature. In our habitual thinking we do not distinguish between the two. The phrase: I am a ‘human person’ combines both ideas. But, if we step back, we realise that there is a distinction. If I say ‘I am a person with a human nature’, we get closer to reality. And that is emphasised by the absurdity of reversing this phrase because it is a person who possesses a nature, not a nature which possesses a person. Thus ‘person’ is a statement of identity; it answers the question ‘who?’ Our nature tells us ‘what’ sort of person we are describing. In this case it’s a person who has, and operates through, a human nature.

So, whatever difficulties we may have in understanding the Incarnation there is no contradiction nor absurdity in the fundamental truth that God the Son who has, from all eternity, the nature of God, and acquired at a moment in history the nature of man, so becoming one person with two natures.

Rightly, we turn to the Scriptures to understand more fully what this means. But we have to be careful because the various misunderstandings which people in the first millennium of the Church made about the Incarnation arose from their consideration of Scripture. In the end we always have to refer to the Church’s infallible teaching. No better authority is available for us to know the basic facts.

This teaching is outlined in the Catechism. We really do need to consult the text – several sites are on the Internet. Questions 456-478 particularly apply. Here I am confining myself to the Catechism’s own summary as a reminder:


479. At the time appointed by God, the only Son of the Father, the eternal Word, that is, the Word and substantial Image of the Father, became incarnate; without losing his divine nature he has assumed human nature.

480. Jesus Christ is true God and true man, in the unity of his divine person; for this reason he is the one and only mediator between God and men.

481. Jesus Christ possesses two natures, one divine and the other human, not confused, but united in the one person of God’s Son.

482. Christ, being true God and true man, has a human intellect and will, perfectly attuned and subject to his divine intellect and divine will, which he has in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

483. The Incarnation is therefore the mystery of the wonderful union of the divine and human natures in the one person of the Word


In trying to understand this more clearly, I suggest that we consider these truths in the incidents of the Gospels. Here are some which may be relevant:

Was Jesus’ DNA all from his mother? If not what constituted paternal DNA? What did Jesus know as a new born baby?; did he have to learn the Scriptures to develop his understanding?; what do we learn from the incident in the Temple and the questions he asked?; from the baptism by John?; from the temptations in the desert?; from the Transfiguration?; his ability to understand what was in people’s hearts?; his miracles?; his claims to forgive sins?;  his claim: “Before Abraham was, I am”?; “He who has seen me has seen the Father”?; the agony in the garden?; his expression of abandonment at the time of death?; his descent into Hell?; his strange appearances after the Resurrection, including the sharing of a meal?

Needless to say these are only prompts off the top of my head – you will be able to think of more. In considering this, we may want to consult other authorities, but we must avoid getting lost in academic obscurities. I hope that our reflections, if they are to be helpful to all, need take us no further than the plain language accessible to reasonably intelligent Christians. I suggest that we are less interested in what saint X or theologian Y has said, than we are in our insights which we present for others to share. We are not after an exchange of quotes or Internet links, but the witness of each other’s personal understandings. It may prove our most demanding discussion yet.

Good luck!

About Quentin

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69 Responses to Two into one won’t go?

  1. John Candido says:

    My interest in this question is if Jesus is constituted by two natures, one divine and one human, was this a dichotomy of sorts or a perfect union? If Jesus was both human and divine, what limits would his humanity have on his claim to being God? Can Jesus be omniscient and possessing all the power of God, and still be human? And further, regardless of the Incarnation being either a dichotomy of sorts or a perfect union; was the Incarnation constituted by an equal division of these two essences or not?

    I tend to favour Jesus’ two natures being solidified into one divine being. If one were to look at the Church’s teaching on humans, I think that this is a clue towards understanding the mystery of the Incarnation. People are not solely human, but they have something that is at the centre of their essence that we call our soul or spirit. Likewise, Jesus was not solely human because he had something that was at the centre of his being, namely, his divine nature.

    I will suggest that people have a duality or dichotomy as much as Jesus had a dual nature comprised of divinity and humanity. There is a perfect unity between our soul and our bodies. Likewise, Jesus was perfectly constituted as a human and a divine person.

    However, people are limited and are human with no claim to being a divinity or God, despite possessing a soul. This is non-negotiable. Jesus on the other hand was constituted by both humanity and divinity, but he was capable of great knowledge and power, far beyond any mortal’s claim. This explains why Jesus could confound everyone by performing miracles, never sinning, and even rising from the dead.

    Because of Jesus’ power; I would say that he is more divine in nature than human. In other words, he is someone marked with far more divinity than humanness. People have a leaning towards being human and fallible, while Jesus was God, who could back this up with demonstrable power.

    • St.Joseph says:

      John Candido.
      That all sounds very intellectual-well done you,it is difficult for me to take that in.
      I am going to sound very silly now after your comment however I will say it.I would appreciate being put right on my thoughts.

      I am going back to Adam ‘or ‘Eve again the first man and women-if either was created or evolved into a human, and either one came first, then why is it not impossible for Jesus to be born of a woman without a male sperm (God knew the secret of the science for that one)after His wonderful Creation of the Universe that would be simple for Him.
      Then His Spirit is One with the Father-as ours as when we are baptised-we become one with Him (obviously not so clever) and we are continually re-renewing His new Covenant in the Eucharist.
      When we think of it St Peter performed miracles by raising someone from the dead-who says we are not able now from the New Creation-children of the Father.
      I am giving up for now as I am confusing myself.
      I await ‘Ignatius’ to smash my theory in pieces!!!!

  2. Vincent says:

    What you say St Joseph about the conception of Jesus may well be right. But the question is more involved than that. As you will know, when conception takes place one strand of the mother’s DNA pairs with one strand from the father. So for Jesus to have been truly man, his DNA was a combination of the two. We know that a strand came from Mary, but the other must presumably have come directly from God. While this may not be a problem to God, it still leaves us wondering what sort of biological DNA he received from his father, and what characteristics would have resulted.

    Having said that, I don’t think that this is an issue which should detain us. There are more important issues in Quentin’s other examples in the Gospels.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Vincent thank you for that.
      I expect Mary being conceived without original would have the answer somewhere in it all too.That is also a mystery-She being prepared in advance!

      Maybe not an important issue but it does get a brain working into action ,I was always puzzliing over things like this-making my mother have a headache!!!!!!She was all against questioning God!!

  3. St.Joseph says:

    Also. Jesus worked miracles yes-but He did say we will do greater things than Him, and we could move mountains if we had enough Faith! But we need enough love to do it,and enough Hope that when we do we are moving them for the right reasons!!

  4. claret says:

    The mystery on the Incarnation leads us directly to that other mystery of the Trinity. Why would God becoming man on earth have to refer ( indeed defer as well,) to his Father in Heaven ?

    • St.Joseph says:

      I expect that is what Jesus meant when He said the Holy Spirit will tell us what we want to know.But then how do we know it is coming from God? We must believe in the authority of the Church to reveal the Truth through the Apostolic succession.
      Not to sure I agree with Pope Francis’s latest statement. At least not all of it!

      • St.Joseph says:

        I have read the CCC the numbers you said and I am a bit concerned with No 460, I
        quote- ‘For the Son of God became man so that we can become God’. and as there are only one-it is a little like what Satan was saying to Adam and Eve.when he told them to eat of the Tree of knowledge!
        I can understand we have His Divinity but not be God Himself!.
        I am trying to figure it out-but thought you might enlighten me.

  5. St.Joseph says:

    P.S. Would you think then that there are more than 3 Persons in the ‘Trinity’now perhaps Millions or more?

    • milliganp says:

      I’ve tended to think that the whole of humanity is called to complement the Trinity – as we are made in the image of God. Mary, as the one perfect human other than Christ enjoys this relationship already but we (all the rest of humanity, even the saints) will only experience it after the general resurrection. This is because God is perfect love and generosity and is ordered (willingly – by God’s perfect nature) to share Godself fully with His creation.

  6. ionzone says:

    Something I have always found interesting is that the first Christians had some doubts that Christ was human at all. To me, though, Christ was someone whose body was human, but whose soul was a fragment of God. This seems strange to us, but it is part of the greater mystery of God. Will we ever understand that? Who knows….

    • St.Joseph says:

      As Jesus took on Mary’s human nature He would also receive His soul by the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you think?It must be part of our human nature.Which begs the question do animals have souls.As He had 2 natures it is obvious He would have all the temptations as we do and fears,but could cope better as He had a better understanding from His Divine nature..
      I don’t mind speaking about the New Creation, I would prefer it to Adam and Eve the old one.As it is now!

    • milliganp says:

      That was one of the more popular heresies of the early church! The church came, via enormous struggle and confusion, to realise that Christ was fully divine – no part measures, not just the most holy person ever but God incarnate. Mary was given the title Theotokos (God-bearer) because Christ’s body, not just his soul was divine.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Your comment above is interesting,can you explain what you mean by Christ’s body was also divine.not just His soul. Does that mean that He had one nature. both divine? I am just thinking about Singalong’s comment at 8.50.
        Regarding Our Blessed Mother. I pray that Pope Francis may proceed with the new 5th and last Dogma of Mary Coredemptrix Mediatrix and Advocate .sometime in the Lords own time.
        .Our Lady of all Nations Pray for us…

      • milliganp says:

        If we were to say that Christ’s body was human and His soul divine then He could not have saved humanity since it is the sacrificial death of His body which effects our redemption.

  7. Quentin says:

    St Joseph makes an allusion above to the Pope’s latest interview. I have now had an opportunity to begin reading the text. I find it most impressive, and even those who query his approach recognise that a great change in the Church may be taking place. It is not I think relevant to the subject we are currently discussing but it should prove possible for us together to look at relevant aspects in the future. So do try to find the time to study it. By all means pop me an email if you spot a passage you would like to see discussed. It’s at

    • St.Joseph says:

      Thank you for that .
      It is a pity that the TV News did not place a correct translation on his message.if it was a translation..
      It came over to me and many others that the issue.of abortion and contraception were not important and the Church ought to concentrate on mercy- it was taken out of context typical of the media,However concentrating on these two issues are acts of mercy.I believe this ought to be made clear as it does in the article.

    • St.Joseph says:

      If we say that then, does that mean that Jesus was not ‘fully human’ like us-God became man,but our body is not divine or is it?
      I thought the Sacrificial death was because He’ was’ God.Only then could we be saved.

  8. Iona says:

    Thank you Quentin; I will read it. As St. Joseph says, the media cannot be trusted to report accurately on anything Church-related.
    Back to Jesus’s DNA (I know it’s a relatively minor point, but it was a question asked me years ago by Youngest Son, and it really puzzled me!) I suppose Jesus’s DNA could have come from Joseph though without any sexual activity having taken place. As miracles go, it wouldn’t be a very big one.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I find it interesting that Our Lady is from the House of David and St Joseph is too.
      I think I am right in saying that they were distant cousins

      • milliganp says:

        If they came from the same village it would be inevitable that they would have common blood no further than 3 or 4 generations back. However I’m not keen on discussing Jesus’ DNA -if we accept His Divinity we can leave it to the Holy Spirit to work out the rest. I’ve always, somewhat romantically perhaps, thought that he might be a natural clone of Adam – ludicrously far fetched, I accept, at a scientific level.
        There is a wonderful hymn in the divine office (wk 1 friday vespers)
        In his own image God created man,
        And when from dust he fashioned Adam’s face,
        The likeness of his only Son was formed;
        His word incarnate, filled with truth and grace.

  9. Singalong says:

    The whole truth, which Quentin mentions, is certainly beyond my mind, and I have usually been content just to accept that Christ has two natures, without wanting to see them as too distinct. During His time on earth, I picture Him mainly living through His human nature, but,in a sense, calling on His divine nature at special times, such as when His mother virtually asked Him to help out at the wedding feast they were celebrating in Cana, and when He wanted to heal the sick. He did not make use of it for His own comfort when He was tempted in the desert, or on Calvary. One occasion, which was drawn to our attention when I was at school, was when He was in danger of being stoned, and He disappeared, which was because His time had not yet come rather than for His own safety.

  10. Ignatius says:

    Its interesting that as soon as we begin to discuss this topic we find ourselves tilting towards one old heresy or another!! The Docetist argument for example was that Christ was in fact a divine being who only appeared to be a man. The Arian view was that the two natures of Christ, divine and human, were united in such a way as to produce a kind of demigod-neither fully one thing or the other. The Adoptionist argument was that Jesus was in fact an ordinary man who God adopted as a special son and gave to him special powers. There are lots of shades in between these positions I might add. I find the subject quite fascinating as it gives us the opportunity to examine what we as individuals really believe. I say ‘really’ believe because it is perfectly easy to think one believes one thing but, when one questions onself, to discover a different belief underlying. Its hard to fathom out the mystery of Christ-why wouldn’t it be?!!
    Just to be clear though the constitution of Christ is understood to be one divine person, the Son of God, possessing two natures both joined in one person having a completely divine nature and a completely human nature. These natures both keep what is proper to them so they are not changed , not fused nor divided so that each remains distinct and perfect. Though in Christ there were therefore two distinct wills, each acting in its proper way, there was only one worker-only one and that one was the Son of God to whom both wills belonged. This means that the very least act on earth was the act of a Divine Person and, as such, of infinite value.

    I have paraphrased two main sources above: Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine-Archbishop Sheehan p392 and The teaching of the Catholic Church Canon George Smith p382. I think it is important to have at least a little bit of definition for us to get our teeth into. The nub of it is that Jesus was a human being but that’s not all he was. When we grasp this it becomes a little clearer-if still impossible to fully comprehend.

    • St.Joseph says:

      What we all thought in one way or another?I don’t think we are tilting towards one heresy or another. Just following what Quentin asked us to do
      That is to get a better understanding of what we believe.We can only do that by thinking more deeply about what we are supposed to believe in.and why!
      I have never been frightened of turning things up side down and inside out and not going along with the crowd I like to find out for myself and listen to others too It is healthy I think..

      I would like some thoughts from anyone on No 460 of the CCC which I mentioned above at 2 07 yesterday.Perhaps you are as confused as I was when I read it!!
      There must be some theologians out there!..

      • Quentin says:

        St Joseph, your question about the Catechism (460) contains the most wonderful thing about our salvation. I see that Vincent has referred to it in his explanation. Since all love is founded in God, your loving action depends on grace which is simply another way of describing your sharing in God’s nature. Similarly, what we mean by being in a state of grace means living through God’s nature. We do not become the person of God but we take on the nature of God through our love. And so we are privileged to carry around the Incarnation in our person.

        Now that the human race has been redeemed everyone who behaves with love (from Mary to Richard Dawkins) expresses God’s nature in that action. The old tag has it ubi caritas ibi Deus — where there is love, there is God. This is one of Pope Francis’s key messages. It is not new, just a fuller understanding of what has always been.

      • Singalong says:

        Quentin, your reply at 10.25, this would support the inclusion of atheists in God`s plan of salvation, which I certainly want to believe, though I find it rather hard to understand how Our Lord`s teaching in the second part of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5 43-48, relates to this thinking, “For if you love those who love you . . do not even the Gentiles do the same . . you must be perfect . . so that you may be sons of your Father Who is in heaven.”

      • Quentin says:

        Singalong, see my answer to you and St J. below (4:16pm)

      • Ignatius says:

        ST Joseph:
        ” What we all thought in one way or another? I don’t think we are tilting towards one heresy or another….”
        Don ‘t panic ma’m its not the inquisition!!! The interesting thing is that the ‘heresies’ were just natural lines of thinking which were considered and found to be insufficient. Eventually the fullest solution was arrived at -the most accurate way of formally describing a mystery. So what I mean is that it is perfectly natural to seek a solution to the mystery which is limited and partial-that’s why we have a magisterium.

  11. Nektarios says:

    Then what or whom are we declaring? What are we worshipping? What are praying to?
    When we evangelize, whom or what are we preaching? Are we saying we don’t know Him-surely not?
    We need more than the Catechism, we need the descriptive, yes, but we also need the actual Christ, without whom our faith is in vain as the Apostle said, which is not a theological, philosophical point of view, entitled to your own as you are. We have to be aware of God with Whom we have to do.
    Christ’s DNA is back to the body again. It is pointless to go down that route of enquiry as it will yield absolutely nothing.
    Does the scientific mind in its arrogance think for a moment that it can measure, weigh and quantify God?
    Of course there is mystery here, hence faith from God is given, the history of the witnesses of Christ, and the application of all that Christ is and did for us by the Holy Spirit.
    We are inheritors, children of the Most High God…. and still you don’t know Him – amazing?

  12. Ignatius says:

    Precisely put. But the topic is about the person of Christ.

  13. Vincent says:

    The first difficulty I have in thinking about this is that I want to be able so see possible solutions through my imagination. Yet it follows that because my imagination can’t get beyond human understanding it confuses rather than helps me.
    So I have tried to understand better by looking at the examples of incidents in Christ’s life with which Quentin has presented us. I find the Agony in the Garden is helpful here. It presents me with an apparent conflict between the two wills of Jesus: “not my will but thine be done”
    We can readily understand Jesus’ great fear of the experience he faces. And we immediately understand his wish to be relieved of the great burden. But he is subject to the Father’s will. Here we get back to the issue of the Trinity. We are taught that the Son is the word, or expression or image of the Father. Our language is inadequate but the conclusion must be that through his divine nature he shares that will. He both wishes to escape (human nature) and he wishes to go through with it (divine nature).
    Then a rather absurd analogy occurred to me. When my wife began to develop chest trouble (been a smoker for years) she had to give it up. I thought that she might never succeed if I did not give it up at the same time. I had often tried before but never persevered. But in this case I just stopped. There was no difficulty whatsoever. Why was this?
    The answer is that my choice was not to benefit me but an expression of love. Now, as we all know, our love is a participation in the divine nature – through grace. At my lowly level I had taken on something of God’s nature. But in Christ’s case he, as man, participated in the divine nature to the fullest extent that his human nature allowed. And it was this participation which enabled him to replace his lower instincts (pain, suffering, even the sense of abandonment at his death) with his love for the Father. The difference between Christ and me does not lie in our joint possession of the divine nature through grace, but that my participation is fragmented and partial, whereas his participation is complete. St Paul said: I live, now not I but Christ, lives in me.

  14. St.Joseph says:

    Thank you for your deep reply to my question
    I think It could have been made clearer in the CCC like you did.

    • Quentin says:

      I am reminded of a story told to me about my grandfather. He was on conversational terms with the prostitutes in Florence (don’t be surprised, so was Christ). He was intrigued because he would often see them at early Mass. He asked them why, and they explained that they were prostitutes because of financial necessity, but they went to Mass out of choice. “Much has been forgiven (them), because (they) loved much”

      • St.Joseph says:

        Another saying of Jesus. ‘Anyone who believes in me will live,, and anyone who lives in me will never die..
        That seems to me-that anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus wont live. Atheists don’t believe in Jesus or God.
        But even if we sin we are assured of our salvation-but not for those who don’t believe in Him. So not believe in Him is a greater unforgivable sin than the norm (Quentins comment on the prostitutes who sin but believe).

        Sometimes when we question these sayings we are often made to feel uncharitable and all we are doing is trying to get to the Truth so that people will believe. Because if one does not know we may be committing sin ourselves by not carrying out our duties as Christians-the sin of omission.I hope I have made that clear -a bit complicated I know to explain.

      • Quentin says:

        In the matter of atheists and salvation we have to keep a clear head. I start with a quote from Pope Francis (reported 30 May 2013). “The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart, do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can… “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ, all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!” We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

        Now we have to understand how that can be, given the explicit statements in the Gospels that we have to believe in Christ etc. The answer I ask you to consider is found in chapter 25 of St Matthew when those marked for salvation ask when had they seen Jesus in prison etc? And he replies that inasmuch as they had done this for the least of his brothers they had done this for him. What this means, I suggest, is that any act of love to another human being is an act of love to Jesus-in-that-human being. The atheist acting in this way does not see Christ directly but Christ-in-his-neighbour.

        Singalong, referring to the Sermon on the Mount, suggests that Jesus is explaining that a higher form of love than the love of someone who loves you is required. Yes indeed. That is reciprocal love – naturally good in itself but not enough. True love is unselfish, it is given freely – not for the sake of return but for the sake of the other person. An extreme version of this is love for our enemies. But we all know of people who do not recognise God directly but who do great good works because they perceive the intrinsic worth of their neighbours. I fear that many of these will get to Heaven before I do.

        There is not enough of this love, but it can be found anywhere – in the hospital, in the prison, on the streets, in the brothel, in Syria, in the family, in the school, in Parliament – take your pick! We are a redeemed race.

  15. St.Joseph says:

    That is a very clear explanation and quite understandable -thank you.
    In a way that is why I feel strongly about the refusing of the reception of Holy Communion for divorced an re-married..
    God loves the sinner and we do not not know how much The Lord is offended when Holy Mother Church says it is not possible.,particularly when the Holy Father speaks from the heart as he so rightly does.and then does not get down to the other matters which to me seem are not from the heart..
    I hope you understand my feelings on this. it is in no way a disagreement in the Churches authority, just not used charitably. Forgive my presumption. but honesty..

  16. John Nolan says:


    “A great change may be taking place in the Church”. I should think you and I have had enough changes for one lifetime. Also, if you look at the history of the papacy, even the greatest popes have never acted in isolation – whatever they achieved has to be seen in the context of their predecessors and successors. The present papacy by the nature of things is not likely to be a long one, and for all his qualities Pope Francis is hardly a Gregory VII or an Innocent III. Liberal enthusiasm and conservative concern are, in my opinion, misplaced.

    • Quentin says:

      Which is why I used a subjunctive. It reminds me of that other short-reigning pope, John XXIII — known initially as the ‘stopgap’ pope. Whether for ill or good he changed course of the stream.

      I hope we’ll have an opportunity on the Blog to discuss specifics. I look forward to that. And I will be relying on your trenchant views.

  17. Vincent says:

    A little earlier on I tried to explain my thinking about the Agony in the Garden. but I notice another example which we have been given “What did Jesus know as a new born baby?; did he have to learn the Scriptures to develop his understanding?; what do we learn from the incident in the Temple and the questions he asked?”

    I think we must assume that Christ’s human knowledge needed to develop. As a true human embryo or as a true human child his understanding must at first have been nil, and it would later develop in the normal way. When he questioned the elders in the temple he may have been impressively perceptive, but he still needed his questions answered. Does anyone agree with that? It supposes that his knowledge of the divine nature and his relation to it must have developed from a dim and vague awareness into adult knowledge. I find it hard to get my mind around this. Does anyone else share this difficulty?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Our knowledge of God develops with our understanding and Grace also our experiences.
      However Jesus’s knowledge I think would be a lot more certain and believable by His Mother (our Blessed Mother’ too) by teaching Him about the Angel Gabriel, and who knows what else will have been revealed to Her. Also Her cousin Elizabeth who conceived St John the Baptist and his birth. We don’t know it all.
      The way Jesus spoke in the Temple at 12 year’s, His understanding of who He was which was all the way in the OT prophesied He grew in wisdom as it is told. He will still have had doubts but being filled with the Holy Spirit would have had the strength to overcome
      I often think about His human needs and sexual desires and for marriage., But He was God. The same desires that our humanity has. Then to go voluntary through the Way He did.for us.
      I admire soldiers who give their lives up in war. I am not comparing it-but they are martyrs..
      Perhaps someone else has more thoughts on that.
      . .

      • Singalong says:

        St. Joseph, how wonderfully practical you are! I had never thought of Mary perhaps telling Jesus about His origins, nor Elizabeth, perhaps it has been written about. I wonder if she did, and if we shall ever know in this life. I have always thought of Jesus in the Temple, astounding the teachers with His wisdom, as an occasion when His Divinity somehow broke through. It is quite mystifying, as it did not seem to lead to anything, as His later miracles did, strengthening the faith of His followers, and announcing the Kingdom.

    • John Candido says:

      ‘As a true human embryo or as a true human child his understanding must at first have been nil, and it would later develop in the normal way.’ (Vincent)

      As we were never there, and no one observed and communicated otherwise, I think that is a reasonable position.

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Candido.
        As you say,however I think Jesus was ‘full of Grace’ so would have had a head start on us!
        Our blessed Mother was there!!!!So She would know.!

    • RAHNER says:

      “It supposes that his knowledge of the divine nature and his relation to it must have developed from a dim and vague awareness into adult knowledge. I find it hard to get my mind around this. Does anyone else share this difficulty?”

      What is problematic in supposing that Christ’s understanding of himself and his mission underwent change and development?

      • St.Joseph says:

        The Gospel tells us ‘ when Jesus was lost and found in the Temple. He went home with His parents and remained obedient to them ,and grew in wisdom..
        Not knowing any more until He began His Ministry we are in the dark and can only speculate that His mother and St Joseph taught Him.or maybe He had visits from Angels.who awakened His mind.. He knew what His mission was and He knew about the Transfiguration and He must have known who to call and follow Him Also His mother knew when His time had come when He said it hadn’t at the wedding at Cana..

  18. Singalong says:

    Thank you, Quentin, for your uplifting reply, and for the quotations. I have always held on to the teaching we had as children, that good people doing the best that they know, are included with martyrs who died before receiving formal baptism, in baptism of desire. Hearing the words of Christ, welcoming them with, “you did it to Me,” brings the theology to life, as do the exhilarating words of Pope Francis.

    • St.Joseph says:

      St Joseph would have spoken about the Angel appearing to him in a dream and telling him not to worry about taking Mary for his wife. also the escape from Herod, all those things She pondered on and told Him on Her knee. The same things we were told as a child and hear all the time in the that we can believe.

  19. St.Joseph says:

    John Candido.
    I was waiting for you to ask the ‘one million dollar question’, you didn’t, so I will assume that you won’t.
    My assumption is.’ Our Blessed Mother was there’ so I believe She is the witness for us to believe- that is why She is the one appearing all the time for He Son!
    Faith and reason one could say.

  20. Ignatius says:

    ” …When he questioned the elders in the temple he may have been impressively perceptive, but he still needed his questions answered. Does anyone agree with that? It supposes that his knowledge of the divine nature and his relation to it must have developed from a dim and vague awareness into adult knowledge. I find it hard to get my mind around this. Does anyone else share this difficulty?…”

    There is much written on this very interesting topic. As St Joseph said one assumed that Jesus’ family life would have been failry ‘normal’ We don’t know if Mary and Joseph spoke to Jesus much about his origins-they may have decided not to simply to avoid the attention it would bring-and had already brought them earlier. They may have known of the slaughter of the innocents that ran behind them as they fled for Egypt, imagine how would you have felt yourself-having the burden of holiness and feeling perhaps in part responsible for too much already.
    What we do know is that Jesus’ divinity must have been somehow radiant in the background of his humanity. Rather as a shadow is sharply thrown into relief by brilliant light. Yet his humanity had to come to comprehend his divinity-in the same way that our inner lives come to comprehend the eternal spirit within us. We learn slowly, dully even but Jesus was sinless and knew human perfection so must have comprehended his own divinity -probably in great awe and sometimes more fearfully. I should think it was his awareness of his divinity which allowed him to go to the cross. This is where the subject comes to life. Mary represents for us the birth of God within a person (you and me) Jesus in a sense represents our transfiguration and our true hope-as he came to see within himself….so we come to see within ourselves.

  21. Ann says:

    Someone said this to me only yesterday, we are spiritual beings experiencing a human nature. Maybe this is what Christ experienced, being God made man, but we are made human first then given our soul/spirit, so we wouldn’t experience human nature like Christ did.

    Any thoughts?

  22. Ignatius says:

    Yes, I quite like that and as I grow older it seems to chime with my internal life!

    • St.Joseph says:

      When I mentioned ‘assumed’, I was confirming the fact to John Candido on his comment at 2.0. when he implied .;no one was there,to observe.,’ that Mary was there’!

      Ann I think we are human with a soul from conception,we become children of God when we are a priest said once, Which takes us into further difficulties as to unbaptised children, they must be Gods children too.

      • Ann says:

        I think we all are children of God even when we have not been baptised. When we are conceived we’re told God gives us a soul then, when we are baptised we are given the gift of the holy spirit to help us stay graceful. Someone who has not been baptised can still live a Holy life, but then like you say, the difficulties araise from that, because we believe people need to be baptised in order to be saved.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Maybe that is why Our Blessed Mother has appeared to the children at Fatima and Lourde and Her appearance’s over the world. Not just for Christians. so all Her children will believe. Maybe She does not only sit on the Throne- She is still crushing Satan as the prophets pre warned in Genesis!
        We ought to consider all the unsolved miracles happening since the Resurrection.
        We have the present to follow and not just be stuck in the mysteries of the Bible.but not forgetting the importance of them either!

  23. Iona says:

    When Jesus’s parents found him in the temple he said in explanation “Didn’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?” – and they “did not understand what he meant”. This implies that by the age of 12 he already had an intuitive grasp of his relation to God the Father, which had not been taught to him by His parents.
    Maybe he was aware of his relation to God in the same way that a young child with an early gift (e.g. for music, or maths) moves around easily in his/her world of music [maths] and only gradually discovers that not everyone does the same thing and that s/he is exceptional. Like Adam before the Fall, he “walked with God”.

    As for the questions he put to the elders in the temple, what we are told (by Luke) is that he was “sitting among the doctors, listening to them and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies”. That doesn’t really suggest that he was asking them questions because he wanted to know the answers to things he didn’t understand. Maybe they were rhetorical questions, or questions devised to make his hearers examine their assumptions and preconceptions, rather than tell him things he didn’t know and wanted to.

    His baptism, and the events accompanying it, may have put the final seal on his awareness of his own divinity, – not in the sense that he may have doubted it previously (“ten thousand difficulties do not make a doubt; they are not commensurate”) but the implications may have become fully clear.

  24. Vincent says:

    I take some consolation from the fact that no one shares my uneasiness with the idea of increasing knowledge. It means that I am probably wrong. But I think of when Jesus said: “Before Abraham was, I am.” There he is claiming as a human being that he is God. Did he go through a process when very young of thinking:” I wonder if I am God” or later: “Yes I’m pretty sure I must be God” and finally “Yes, I definitely am God.”
    I know that sounds odd, and might be thought irreverent. But I don’t mean to be — I just want to get my head around the idea.

  25. Ignatius says:

    “…I know that sounds odd, and might be thought irreverent. But I don’t mean to be — I just want to get my head around the idea…”

    Its not remotely irreverent Vincent, pseudo reverence is one of our big problems and one we need to get over!. Technically speaking Jesus’ divine Nature was capable of thoroughly perceiving his humanity-as God is of ours. His humanity, even though perfect could only perceive his divinity as his humanity, like ours, grew! Hence Jesus learned obedience through suffering. I think its really important to realise what ‘like us in every way apart from sin’ actually means-keep on puzzling it through!

  26. Vincent says:

    Ignatius, thank you for your thoughts. I find them helpful — and I shall keep on trying to “puzzle it through”. Perhaps this is what this blog is really about — puzzling it through.

  27. St.Joseph says:

    What would be the point of Jesus being God if he was not going to be aware of it?
    He died for us so that we can become like Him-so it won’t be surprising that we would be asking questions,Knowing more about Him than our atheists friends.
    Faith is believing in something that we don’t fully understand to be true.

    I am sure Mary would have told Jesus all about His birth and the Angel Gabriel- I believe He would have had a pretty good idea of who His Father was.and who John the Baptist was -his fore-runner.
    She would know when His time had come.He probably said what He did at Cana with a little human fear like in the Agony in the Garden-but was obedient to His Mother so therefore. changed the water into wine.
    When He asked the question ‘Who is my mother-who is my brother’- who is my sister, I don’t think He said Father!! Anyone who follows me and listens to my voice etc……
    However I believe that He was asking us to be like Her in our relationship to Himself.Not being rude to it may sound..He was lifting us up to Her Holiness.And pointed that out to St John at the bottom of the Cross!

    • St.Joseph says:

      So perhaps Jesus wanted females to be Mothers to all men ( which of course we are) But maybe He meant Spiritually. Sorry to all you males out there!.That’s a big task to follow !
      However Our Blessed Mother is to us all.

    • Singalong says:

      Iona, your description makes a lot of sense to me, especially the analogy of children with special gifts, and pointing out that Mary and Joseph were mystified by Christ`s episode in the Temple, and also Ignatius, thinking that parents would refrain from burdening their child with too much information. I have been trying to find out, without success so far, if there are any clues in the life of Christ written by Catherine Emmerich in the 19th century, which is online, and which I think the Church has approved. There are also writings by Maria Valtorta, who died in 1953, but I am not sure about their standing.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Thank you for that interesting information.
        I have never heard of either, I think Pope John Paul either Beatified or Canonised Catherine.Emmerich What I have just read I will read some more. Although she is not in the General Roman Calendar contents that’s probably why I have never read anything about her , but I will.. I have. got into the web and found her visions of the Nativity and Her marriage to St Joseph. Also where she described the House of Mary, all very interesting thank you..

  28. Ignatius says:

    One of the things that also interests me is what do we think a ‘perfect’ man is? How do we think tht such a being might differ from ourselves? Its easy to come up with an idealised set of negatives such as ..not cruel, not unkind etc but I wonder, if there was this ‘perfect’ man in the office, the home ,factory, post office or shop – how would you know?

    • St.Joseph says:

      Ignatius. A saying of my mothers was ‘ A house devil,and a street angel’,also ‘ we have to live with someone to really know them’, however one could be a house angel and a street devil.
      Who can define perfection only God.
      If I were to choose the perfect male it would be for me St Joseph! A comforter and Protector, He would have to be perfect spiritually for Jesus’ foster father and Mary’s husband.
      If I was a male I would not use him as my blog name although it is my grandsons name.; even though my name is Mary.. But strangely although baptised Mary. my mother never called me by that name.nor anyone else.Only officially.

  29. St.Joseph says:

    Ignatius. A saying of my mother’s was ;A house devil and a street angel, also ‘we have to live with someone to really know them!.But one could be a house angel and a street devil..
    Who can define perfection only God.
    If I were to choose the perfect male it would be St Joseph a Comforter and Protector. also he would be perfect spiritually to be Jesus’s foster father and Mary’ husband.
    If I were a male I would not use St Joseph as my blog name. even though my name is Mary.

    This comment may come through twice as I lost it half way through.

  30. Iona says:

    Re Ignatius’s question about the perfect man, – I sometimes wonder how Mary was seen by her neighbours; as anything special, or simply as a quiet, kind, generous, reliable neighbour? (I think what I’m wondering is, if we encountered perfection would we recognise it as such?)

  31. Ignatius says:

    Yes, that is my drift too. I wonder what it looks like and if we would recognise it, after all Jesus caused plenty of upset too! I think we tend to idolise and romanticise rather and these tendencies, though natural, are not especially helpful to the nitty gritty life.

  32. St.Joseph says:

    Jesus said ‘Be perfect like ye Heavenly Father is perfect.’and He showed us the way to achieve it..
    We are on the right road and heading in the right direction and it will be our destination in the end.
    That is not presumptuous or ought we ever to make ourselves too humble as to lose that hope..
    I think of the words of a song we sing and it always reminds me of our journey-‘He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother’.That works both ways for us- to ‘carry an be carried. I have been carried many many times.

    Iona as our Blessed Mother is concerned’ I don’t believe,,She will have been as meek as it seems, She will have known.what was going to happen to Jesus- therefore She needed to remain strong but humble. Mary and St Joseph’s road was long and they both carried the load for us all-lest we forget!
    She is Crowned now Queen of Heaven and we are privileged to call He our Mother..
    I say all this because this post is about the Incarnation, so we remember Her part too.
    The Holy Family. But I am sure will all know this ,however there are those who don’t!.

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