August 19, 2014
These comments in our missalettes from today’s gospel, Matthew 15: 21-28, bothered me. I might have just wondered about it and let it go but because of a discussion I had with my sister, Helen, I wanted to explore this more. “Is it not possible that Jesus truly did grow in understanding of his mission? That he learned about his Father’s plan as he went along, especially that he was sent for all people? How wonderful that this woman’s faith, always a gift from God, helped educate him.”
Not true! This woman’s faith educated Jesus no more than I have educated Jesus. Christ always has been always will be, now and will be forever. Jesus did not dummy-down when he took on our humanity. Jesus didn’t “learn his Father’s plan.” Jesus always understood his mission. Jesus always knew that he must go about his Father’s business.
And I remembered the discussion my sister and I had on the phone a while back. I turn to Helen when I’m trying to figure out some aspect of our Catholic Faith. I admire and respect her very much but this time in our discussion I did not agree with what she had to say about Jesus.
I don’t remember what we were talking about but she asked me when I thought Jesus first knew he was divine. I answered, “Always!” Her voice rose in pitch as she responded, “Even when he was a little baby?” I had never thought about this before. I answered hesitantly, “No, I guess not since he was fully human maybe his mind had to develop for him to understand but I’m sure it was just natural for him and he understood it quickly since he is also fully God. Mary and Joseph knew. This was a fact understood by all three of them.” I was proud of my answer. Then Helen told me that Jesus first became aware of his divinity when he started his ministry.
I was taken aback. I said something like, “oh no that can’t be right.” And I gave a more elaborate answers like, “As a newborn it takes a little while to become aware of self. Movements are unintentional at first but in a few days or weeks the infant can intentionally bat at something because her knowledge of the world is growing so fast that by accidently making physical contact through random hand motions a baby learns self-awareness. Soon she is able to make contact intentionally such as touching a face or batting a mobile hanging overhead.” I reminded Helen that these are just my thoughts. I continued anyway with my own thoughts as Helen listened, “Jesus would also start to be aware of his divinity because it was innate even before he could walk or talk. A baby will very soon recognize a face and smile when he sees it. The baby feels love and almost immediately after birth begins to show love. Jesus would be so full of Divine Love as part of the Trinity that I feel it would be impossible for him not to be aware of his divinity even as an infant and possibly even before he was born.”
She corrected me and let me know that this is not speculation but it is established fact of when Jesus started to become aware of his divinity and how it developed from the writings of Karl Rahner.” I said well I’ve never heard of him. Are his writings approved by the Church?” She said she would hope so since he’s one of the most influential theologians in modern history.” I was upset and asked her, “Why did you ask me that question if you already knew the answer?” I wanted to get off the phone. Helen is never wrong when it comes to religion but how could she be right. My heart still said no, no that can’t be right.
Later that day I looked up Karl Rahner but I couldn’t find any of his teachings on when Jesus started to be aware of his own divinity. I read some of his works. Rahner sounded okay but way over my head so I said a prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance and dropped it until the next day.
In my busy activities of the day, Father, I forgot about it for a while, but my mind doesn’t let go of spiritual thoughts very easily when I’m trying to figure something out and especially since this had to do with Our Lord. Later that day I went for a swim but as soon as I was relaxing in the lake it starting coming back to me. The water was perfect but I had to get out of the lake. I wanted to write instead. I always carry a notebook. I sat on the beach and wrote.
My thoughts went back to Matthew 15:21-28. Jesus never spoke out of confusion or doubt. When the woman begged Jesus to release an evil spirit from her daughter, Jesus suggested he could not help her because she was not Israelite. He insinuated she was like a dog to him. I believe Jesus said this to make a point. I believe he wanted to shock people. He’s been shocking people for centuries. Every time someone hears this gospel from Matthew for the first time they are probably shocked at the way Jesus spoke to this Canaanite woman who asked for his help. I believe Jesus wanted this story to spread. Jesus wanted to shake up Jews and Gentiles alike so they would tell the story and tell of the wonderful show of faith from the woman who pleaded for Jesus to help her daughter and even challenged him with her statement, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” and don’t forget that Jesus did release an evil spirit from her daughter. This could have been done quietly but this is not what Jesus wanted at this time. Jesus always understood that his message is for everyone. It’s preposterous to think anything else. In this gospel example Jesus also wanted to let us know that persistence and faith pay off. And so I closed my tablet, and went home.
But I still wanted to know what Karl Rahner wrote and what the Church says about it so that evening I spent three hours researching. No luck.
But at least now I know who Karl Rahner is I will never forget him. He was a Jesuit guided by the rule of St. Ignatius. He has written volumes and preferred to write essays. He was well received at Vatican II and died in 1984.
Though I couldn’t find what I needed, I did find postings on a blog article: Diluting the Divinity of Christ. “The speculations of such dissenter theologians as Karl Rahner, Bernard Lonergan, Edward Schillebeeck… and among Protestants Paul Tillich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and John Macquarrie — have led to the denial that Jesus Christ always knew he was God. This is, of course, to give the lie to what the Catholic Creed declares: namely, that Jesus is "true God and true Man" and that in Christ there is only one person, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.” (Pope John Paul II, Address to Pontifical Urban University. 4/11/91)
Bloggers respond to this essay: “Karl Rahner’s Baneful Impact on Theology.
#1 response – The effect of this perverted convolution is to bamboozle the gullible with profound-sounding Germanic verbiage that connotes depth but denotes nothing.
Rahner, exactly like Heidegger, is one of those thinkers who strikes the impressionable tyro as being profound and revolutionary, whereas he is in fact merely baffling everyone with smoke and mirrors and bullshit.
#2 I think the answer to your question about how such a marginally Catholic theologian could have influenced so many is in one of your own remarks, which hits the nail on the head. You write: “Rahner’s big juju theological vocabulary bowled over the Vatican II fathers, most of whom were yokels theologically ..."
And much more of the same. Rahner is called an apostate and other unflattering names. I was shocked to read such strong statements opposing Rahner but this from bloggers didn’t convince me that Rahner was not reputable when speaking of the Faith though I was confused.
I’m tired. Wayne keeps insisting I go to bed. Please Father, just tell me the truth. I’ll believe you.
Father responded by sending me this on August 21, 2014
Kathy, I believe the following article may address your concerns/conversation…
I took this from the article Father sent me.
“So we ask: What does the Church teach on these things? Pope Pius XII, in his great Encyclical on the ‘Mystical Body,’ on June 29, 1943, rejected all such charges. He taught: ‘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.’ In other words: His human soul saw the vision of God at once, and in it all knowledge is at hand. In another Encyclical, ‘Sempiternus Rex,’ in 1951,the same Pope complained many were not accepting his teaching…Pope Paul VI …shows the Church means to make this definite and definitive, namely, that the human soul of Jesus, from the first instant, saw the vision of God, in which all knowledge is accessible…
Really, even without the help of the official texts, we should be able to see for ourselves that the human mind of Jesus not only happened to have that vision, but could not lack it. We see it in the following way power of the soul to see needs to be elevated by grace. Of course that was true in Jesus; the divinity should join itself directly to the human mind, without even an image in between, so that the mind may see God." (EWTN)
LORD HAVE MERCY ON US!
Months later I stumbled upon these answers as well. Did Baby Jesus Know All Things? (Answer from Thomas Aquinas)I found this article from Taylor Marshall, Doctor of Theology, Catholic apologist and internet evangelist. I’m including a large portion of what Dr. Marshall has to say. He explains it so much better than I can. I look to Taylor Marshall for answers as he to St. Thomas Aquinas.
“Did the Infant Christ know all things? This is a puzzling question. Christ is fully God who knows all things. Yet Christ is fully human and humans must learn things. So when it comes to knowledge, did Christ learn or did he already know all things from infancy? Thanks be to God, Saint Thomas Aquinas provides us with a great answer to this difficult question.
‘Therefore it is manifest that in the first instant of His conception Christ received not only as much grace as comprehensors have, but also greater than that which they all have. And because that grace was not without its act, it follows that He was a comprehensor in act, seeing God in His Essence more clearly than other creatures.’ (Summa Theologiae III, q. 34, a. 4)
In other words, from his human conception, Christ had the perfect beatific vision of God’s Essence. He was never broken off from God because he is God. This is why Mary is called the ‘Mother of God.’ The Child in her womb is God himself. Since Christ was a perfect comprehensor of his Divine Essence, He knew all things…Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that Christ began to merit for our salvation as soon as he entered the womb of Mary. This entails that the infant Christ knew he was the Savior of humanity even when he was an embryo. This is a wonderful mystery. Pius XII endorsed the view that Jesus had superhuman knowledge in his soul by the beatific vision from the womb onward, stating: ‘Hardly was he conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when he began to enjoy the beatific vision’ (Mystici Corporis 75). Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that Christ had the beatific vision perfectly from the moment of conception of the Holy Spirit:
‘Reply to Objection 3. Since Christ was both God and man, He had, even in His humanity, something more than other creatures–namely, that He was in the state of beatitude from the very beginning.’ St. Thomas Aquinas’
And now my heart is at rest. This is what I truly believed the second I was asked the question, “When did Jesus know he was divine?” My first reaction was always. Always! Always! Always! My God, my Jesus always knew of his divinity. There was no break in this belief from before he was conceived until the moment the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary and Jesus took residence in her womb.
CHRIST HAVE MERCY ON US!
Finally on May 18, 2016 I was able to find a commentary written by John O'Connell Editor of The Catholic Faith magazine on Rahner’s thoughts on the knowledge of Christ.
After reading this I better understand what my sister was talking about. “Concerning the human knowledge of Jesus Christ, Rahner proposes that the immediate vision possessed by Christ was not beatific but the condition of a direct presence to God which ‘must not be understood in the sense of the vision of an object.’1
Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis (1943) wrote that Christ indeed had the beatific vision from the moment of His conception. Also that knowledge which is called vision, He possesses in such fullness that in breadth and clarity far exceeds the Beatific Vision of all the saints in heaven ... in virtue of the Beatific Vision which He enjoyed from the time He was received into the womb of the Mother of God, He has forever and continuously present to Him all the members of His Mystical Body and embraced them with His saving love.” My heart overflows with mystical love on reading this last statement. I could not expect less from my God.
“ ‘Not surprisingly, Rahner assumes that Christ's infused knowledge is not actual knowledge but suggests that it could be conceived as an a-priori basis for knowledge developing through the encounter with the world of experience.’2 Pius XII affirmed in his encyclical on the Sacred Heart Haurietis aquas (1956) that the soul of Christ had infused knowledge.Rahner speaks of Christ as gradually developing His self-consciousness: ‘This consciousness in Christ realized itself only gradually during his spiritual history, and this history does not consist only, or even first and foremost, in being occupied with this or that fact of external reality but consists rather in the never quite successful attaining of what and who one is oneself... So Christ in His human consciousness never became fully aware of His self-identity, nor was He fully cognizant that His Sacred Humanity was intimately united to the Logos.’ 3
St. Fulgentius, a Father of the Church, taught: ‘It is very difficult and quite irreconcilable with the integrity of the Faith to assume that Christ's soul did not possess a full knowledge of its divinity, with which according to the Faith, it physically possesses one person.’4
… Further appeal to Hebrews 4:15: ‘For we have not a high priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities, but one tried as we are in all things except sin.’ Yet properly understood, St. Paul's statement can be readily reconciled with the traditional teaching about Christ's humanity. Christ during His visible stay on earth was like us in all things except for sin and that which is the lot of man because of sin, except for the capacity to suffer and die which Christ required for His work of redemption.
Positive ignorance or error in the human mind of Christ is incompatible with the sublime dignity that the humanity of Christ has by virtue of the hypostatic union. He who said of Himself truly, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (Jn 14:6), could not err or suffer from positive ignorance.”
And my Faith seeking understanding teaches me what I already knew in my heart to be true. I see why it was so important to Jesus for me to learn the truth. “Thank you Jesus for not giving up on me.”
LORD HAVE MERCY ON US!
May 31, 2016
I bought the book, My Other Self, by Clarence Enzler, at the retreat I went to a last month. It’s written as if Jesus were speaking to us. I finally decided to look at it today. I opened it up randomly and started reading. Half way down the page I read, "From the moment of my conception in my mother’s womb I enjoyed the Beatific Vision."
For the past 2 days I've been researching the question of when Jesus first become aware of his divinity, continuing my search for information where I left off almost 2 years ago. You helped me at that time by sending me a link which answered some of my questions.
And in my research this time I found some good reliable information that I’m happy with. This today was no coincidence. I believe Jesus is verifying for me what I’ve known all along. There's no way, no point in time when Jesus wasn't aware of his divinity! "From the moment of my conception in my mother’s womb I enjoyed the Beatific Vision." Blessings, Kathy
I received this response from Father.
Kathy, If Jesus always knew about his divinity… can you imagine his humility?
1 Rahner, Karl Theological Investigations, Volume V (New York:Crossroad), p.209
2 Rahner, op. cit, p.209.
3 Rahner, op. cit., p.213
4 St. Gregory the Great, Epistula ad Eulogium DS 474;76, cited by Most, The Consciousness of Christ, p.123.