Choose a topic from Part 3a:
1. It is most suitable that the invisible things of Godshould be manifested by visible things. Creatures, as St. Paul says(Rom. 1:20), prove the existence, and show the attributes of God.But the Incarnation, the coming of God himself as man, mostmagnificently shows forth the divine perfections. For God to becomeman is a work of wondrous goodness, wisdom, justice, and power;these "invisible things of God" could not be more noblymanifested than they are in the Incarnation. Now, since goodnesscommunicates itself and spreads itself abroad, it is fitting thatInfinite Goodness should communicate itself in the most perfectmanner, and it does so in the Incarnation. Therefore, it issupremely fitting that God should become man.
2. The Incarnation was necessary for man's salvation.It was not absolutely necessary, for God is almighty, andhe could have restored fallen man in other ways. But it wasrelatively necessary, that is, necessary in relation tothe need of bringing redemption to man in the most noble,effective, and admirable way. Consider the surpassing excellence ofthe Incarnation: (a) It advances man in virtue; it enlivens hisfaith; it strengthens his hope; it enkindles his charity; it showsman the perfect example for good works; it gives a human being anawareness of participating in the divine nature, for, as St.Augustine says (xiii de Temp.): "God was made manthat man might be made God." (b) The Incarnation keeps manfrom evil; shows him his human nobility that makes him despise thedevil; makes him aware of his dignity; makes him understand thedegrading effect of sin; teaches him to look humbly to Christ andnot to be presumptuous; instructs him in the heartening truth thatthe satisfaction made by God Incarnate releases him from slavery tosin. (c) No mere man could have made satisfaction for the wholerace. Yet man owed the debt that had to be paid. Only God could paythe debt, and God did not owe it. Hence it was magnificently rightthat the payer of the debt, the Redeemer, should be both God andman.
3. Some have taught that God, in his boundless love forus, wouldhave become man even if there had been no human sinand the consequent need of redemption. But this seems unlikely. Allour knowledge on this point is from Holy Scripture, and scriptureeverywhere assigns man's sin as the reason for theIncarnation.
4. Christ who is God-made-Man, that is, God Incarnate,came to take away the evil effect of original sin, and to make itpossible for man to get to heaven and so attain his true end.Christ came to give us all the means of getting rid of originalsin, of obtaining pardon for actual sins, of gaining grace andstaying free from actual sins. And therefore in scripture (John1:29) Christ is called "the Lamb of God . . . who taketh awaythe sins of the world."
5. The time of the Incarnation was most suitable. Had Godbecome man to redeem us immediately after the first sin wascommitted, human pride would not have been humbled in consequenceof that sin; man would not have realized, through an impressivestretch of time, the greatness of the treasure he had lost. And itwas good for man to prepare, by prayerful longing, for theredemption; thus he would gain a keen awareness of the value ofredemption, and of his need for it, so that, when it came, he couldardently take advantage of it. On the other hand, it would not doto have the Incarnation too long delayed, lest human longing turnto hopelessness and despairing disappointment. Therefore, atexactly the right time, in the "fulness of time," as St.Paul says (Gal. 4:4), God became man.
6. The perfection of glory to which human nature willfinally be raised by the Word Incarnate will appear when souls andbodies are united again at the end of the world in the time of thegeneral judgment. Yet it could not be fitting to have theIncarnation deferred to that moment. For man needed remedy for sin,knowledge of God, reverence, good morals. And the Incarnation gaveman these needed things: first, by hope and anticipation in thosewho lovingly awaited it, and then, by faith and devotion in thosewho actually experienced it in fact and in its fruits. None ofthese needed things would have come to man had the Incarnation beendelayed to the end of the world. Hope and longing would havedisappeared; the hearts of men would have grown cold.
"The name of Jesus, pronounced with reverence and affection, has a kind of power to soften the heart. "
St Philip Neri
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"God looks neither at long nor beautiful prayers, but at those that come from the heart."
The Cure D'Ars
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"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP
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