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Why Did the Second Person of the Trinity Become Incarnate Rather Than the Father or the Holy Spirit?
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | 12-19-16 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 12/20/2016 8:59:19 AM PST by Salvation

Why Did the Second Person of the Trinity Become Incarnate Rather Than the Father or the Holy Spirit?

December 19, 2016


As we continue to await the fast-approaching Feast of Holy Christmas, it is good to ponder some aspects of the Incarnation. Among the questions for us to consider is why it was the Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, that became incarnate, rather than the Father or the Holy Spirit.

Most people have never even thought of this question let alone sought to answer it. God could have chosen many different ways to save us; He chose to act as He did not because it was required, but because it was fitting. It falls to us to ponder, using Scripture and our own reason, why God’s chosen way was fitting, and what we can learn from this.

As always, St. Thomas Aquinas provides rich resources for us. I present below his teaching from the Summa Theologica (part III, question 3, article 8) in bold, italics; my poor commentary appears in red text. St. Thomas proposed four reasons as to why it was most fitting for the Son to become incarnate.

I. First, on the part of the union; for such as are similar are fittingly united. Now the Person of the Son, Who is the Word of God, has a certain common agreement with all creatures, because the word of the craftsman, i.e. his concept, is an exemplar likeness of whatever is made by him. Hence the Word of God, Who is His eternal concept, is the exemplar likeness of all creatures. … for the craftsman by the intelligible form of his art, whereby he fashioned his handiwork, restores it when it has fallen into ruin.

When the Father created all things, he uttered a Word: (i.e., Let there be light). Thus He creates through His Word (the Logos), and the Word of God is Christ. Therefore, in speaking creation into existence by the Logos, God impresses a kind of “logike” (logic) on all things.

In this way the Son, the Logos, has a “certain common agreement with all creatures,” who bear something of logic or likeness to Him. If this be so, then, as St. Thomas reasons, God the Father would best repair His creation by the same Word through whom He first created it.

II. Moreover … Man is perfected in wisdom (which is his proper perfection, as he is rational) by participating the Word of God, as the disciple is instructed by receiving the word of his master. Hence it is said (Sirach 1:5): “The Word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom.” And hence for the consummate perfection of man it was fitting that the very Word of God should be personally united to human nature.

While it is true that Original Sin affected our bodily integrity, perhaps our greatest wound was the darkening of our intellect, which was (and is) our greatest gift, the distinguishing characteristic between us and brute animals. So it is especially fitting that the Word of God, who is also the Wisdom of God, should be joined to our nature and bring healing to us in this way.

St. Paul writes, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2). Even human words can instruct; all the more, then, can the Word of God made Flesh enlighten and heal us. This shows forth the fittingness that the Word, the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, should become flesh.

III. The reason of this fitness [of the Second Person becoming flesh] may [also] be taken from the end of the union, which is … the heavenly inheritance, which is bestowed only on sons, according to Romans 8:17: “If sons, heirs also.” Hence it was fitting that by Him Who is the natural Son, men should share this likeness of sonship by adoption, as the Apostle says in the same chapter (Romans 8:29): “For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son.”

In other words, because it is sons who inherit, it is fitting that He who is Son by nature should become incarnate. And thus shall we, conformed to His image as sons through our adoption and membership in His Body, also inherit the Kingdom and glory through the healing He effects in us.

IV. [Further], the reason for this fitness may be taken from the sin of our first parent, for which Incarnation supplied the remedy. For the first man sinned by seeking knowledge, as is plain from the words of the serpent, promising to man the knowledge of good and evil. Hence it was fitting that by the Word of true knowledge man might be led back to God, having wandered from God through an inordinate thirst for knowledge.

In grasping inordinately for the wrong kind of knowledge (the knowledge of evil) and in insisting on his own right to decide what was good and what was evil, Adam sinned. In and of itself, seeking knowledge is good; it was the object that was disordered (and thus forbidden). Because humans have this thirst to know (of itself good), all the more reason that God should offer us the true Word and Wisdom of God: the Son.

For the Word to become flesh is thus more fitting. In effect, God the Father says, “Let me offer you what you were really seeking, but sought inordinately.” For this reason, the Son, who is the Word, who is Truth itself, becomes incarnate.

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: aquinas; catholic; incarnate; incarnation; jesus; msgrcharlespope; son; sonofgod; stthomasaquinas; thomasaquinas; trinity; truth; word
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1 posted on 12/20/2016 8:59:19 AM PST by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

Monsignor Pope Ping!

2 posted on 12/20/2016 9:01:44 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

I find that the more I read the bible, the less I focus on the thing called “the trinity”. Jesus is fully God in the flesh. Without the flesh, there is no Jesus. He was never “something else” before he was Jesus. He has always been Jesus. In our reality, he has a beginning. In eternity he does not. He is the dwelling place of the holy spirit when he is here. When he is not here, he is not. This is why he had to leave for the holy spirit to do His work here.

Or something like that.

And when he says, “I and the father are one” I see it a bit like when I say I and my wife are one.

3 posted on 12/20/2016 9:03:30 AM PST by Mr. Douglas (Today is your life. What are you going to do with it?)
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To: Mr. Douglas

I’ll ask my Father when I get home ....

4 posted on 12/20/2016 9:09:08 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true, I have no proof, but they're true.)
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To: knarf


5 posted on 12/20/2016 9:17:48 AM PST by Mr. Douglas (Today is your life. What are you going to do with it?)
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To: Salvation

This is like asking why is the son, the son?

People seem to get really confused about the tri part concept

Need to remember human being are created in the image of God and when we say “image” we’re not saying we go look physically like God

We say we are created in the image of God it means we are also tripart beings... we are the only living thing on this planet that is of three parts...

If you really want understand the trinity look at yourself as a three-part being and try to understand..... we are a spirit and we have soul and we have a physical manifestation

6 posted on 12/20/2016 9:19:16 AM PST by tophat9000 (Tophat9000)
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To: Salvation

John 1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.

9 The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 15 (John bore witness to him, and cried, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.’”) 16 And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only Son,[b] who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

7 posted on 12/20/2016 9:21:16 AM PST by NorthMountain (Northmountain)
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To: Salvation

Are we sure there is only 3 persons?

8 posted on 12/20/2016 9:23:12 AM PST by ex-snook (The one true God sent Jesus here to show us the way.)
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To: tophat9000

Precisely. The second person of the trinity is incarnate because he is incarnate. If he were not incarnate he would not be the second person of the trinity.
The Father is incarnate in Christ. The Holy Spirit is incarnate in Christ. Christ is God incarnate.

9 posted on 12/20/2016 9:24:28 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (The Left has the temperament of a squealing pig.)
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To: Salvation

I have never tried to figure out the Holy Trinity; I just accept It. If It was too much for St Augustine on the beach to comprehend, I don’t feel backwards in my understanding. :)

10 posted on 12/20/2016 9:29:44 AM PST by Bigg Red (To Thee, O Lord, I lift my soul. Thank you for saving our Republic.)
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To: Mr. Douglas

Is your wife invisible? Nicea was wrong.

11 posted on 12/20/2016 9:31:54 AM PST by Torahman (Remember the Maccabees)
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To: Salvation

First, they are all one.

John 14: 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me

6 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

This pretty much summarizes the sequence....

12 posted on 12/20/2016 9:36:06 AM PST by tired&retired (Blessings)
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To: Torahman

Is your wife invisible?

I don’t know that an entity’s ability to reflect and reflact visible energy within the spectrum to which the human eye is sensitive is relevant.

I tend to believe that when the bible says that God is IN all it may be quite literal. That is, think of Him as the energy that holds all elements in creation together - and he can simply “leave” and it all falls apart. It’s hard to describe in a single sentence, but there you go... :-)

13 posted on 12/20/2016 9:36:10 AM PST by Mr. Douglas (Today is your life. What are you going to do with it?)
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To: Torahman

Nicea was wrong.

I tend to agree, but think they were probably “mostly right”.

Thing is, I worship no version of the bible and think people (me included) put way too much emphasis on things that may not, relatively speaking, deserve it.

I’m shocked at how many things the bible says that we simply gloss over because they disagree with our beliefs. A fascinating one is that God says “we” in referring to Himself in Genesis. And when Jesus’ brothers are mentioned in the NT, those that insist that Mary never had sex, even though the bible is clear that she didn’t have sex UNTIL Jesus was born, claim that the word used really means “cousin”.

And when Jesus talks of Hell, he really is talking of a real place that the listeners (and historical scholars) were very familiar with. It was a valley called Gehenna, where kings of Judah sacrificed babies by fire.

14 posted on 12/20/2016 9:44:02 AM PST by Mr. Douglas (Today is your life. What are you going to do with it?)
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To: Mr. Douglas

-—(Jesus) He is the dwelling place of the holy spirit when he is here. When he is not here, he is not. This is why he had to leave for the holy spirit to do His work here.-—

Interesting thought...that part that the HS only resided in Christ when he was incarnate...

Not real sure that is solid theology...

I need to do a little research...

15 posted on 12/20/2016 9:47:38 AM PST by Popman
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To: Popman

I’m not sure if it is solid either. But when I see things in the bible like “Jesus sitting at the right hand of God”, and Jesus not knowing things that the Father does know, I think we are getting into the distinctions between the “Son of man” and the “Son of God”, and Jesus being both fully God and fully man.

i.e. we don’t really know a lot about this stuff and I have a feeling we won’t until we cross over to the other side.

16 posted on 12/20/2016 9:51:42 AM PST by Mr. Douglas (Today is your life. What are you going to do with it?)
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To: Mr. Douglas

“And when he says, “I and the father are one” I see it a bit like when I say I and my wife are one.”

It’s a bit different. When husband and wife become one the two souls, one representing the masculine and one the feminine merge together with Love to use each other as a crutch to become one in the eyes of God. However it is better to remain single and become whole within oneself.

As to the “I and the father are one” that is a bit different. Especially when Jesus adds John 10:38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”....John 14:20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. and....John 17:21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

The first time Jesus says “My Father and I are One” is after he came through the dark night of the soul and temptations in the wilderness.

People are using the wrong model to understand these scriptures. Imagine Russian Nesting Dolls where we are the little doll in the middle, Jesus is a larger doll that we exist within, and God is the largest doll that we all exist within. In each situation all dolls exist within the largest doll and at the same time, the contents of the largest doll exist within all other dolls, including us. That is the structure of us with Jesus and God. (It is also the reason that you cannot get to God except by going through the doll between us and God which represents Jesus in the model.)

Bottom line is, as we grow spiritually, our consciousness expands to a higher awareness just as Jesus’ did in the wilderness. I communicate directly with Jesus every day in meditation and prayer. His complete Love described as the wonderful “treasure buried in the field” is there for us always, every day at all times.

This is also the reason for Matthew 24:25 in that the Messiah will be seen in the East and the West at the same time as we exist within Jesus. Just as blood flows within our bodies, the Holy Spirit is the consciousness of God that flows within Jesus and us if we are in Him. This is also why blasphemy or denial of the Holy Spirit is the greatest sin, as to do so you will never find Jesus or Our Father.

When a person is born of the spirit, they begin to perceive reality directly from their soul or spirit and are not limited to the five senses of the physical body. This is how you see and experience Jesus daily.

I pray that my words do not confuse as I am describing my own experiences rather than theorizing an interpretive meaning of scriptures from theory.

By the way, the reason that LOVE is so critically important is that LOVE is the glue that holds the soul together so it can grow to higher levels. It is as the cement in a building as without it a higher building would collapse quickly when shaken. The same is true when a soul is shaken by life’s experiences.

17 posted on 12/20/2016 9:58:28 AM PST by tired&retired (Blessings)
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To: Salvation
The reason Jesus became flesh was to pay our flesh sin debt for us. God is Spirit. We were made in God's image so God has a spirit, soul, and mind. God could not pay our sin debt unless a perfect One, without blemish, shed their blood for us. There was none without sin or God could have just said "So and so" is perfect, be like them" and God would not have had to give us His Son. No one was able to do that, so God provided the Lamb for the payment for sin.

Now choosing the Spirit or the Father as the payment misses the point of God. They are ONE.

John 1:1 tells us the Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In vs 14 we are told the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. If Jesus is the Word and the Word is God, then Jesus is God. Jesus said If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father. I and the Father are One.

If I asked you if you ever hear voices speaking to you, or do you ever speak to yourself, you can start to imagine the spiritual world of God. Jesus was speaking to Himself when speaking to the Father. If you see me, you see one person, but I have a soul and spirit and a mind. It's not really that hard, but God looks at us in a different way than we do.

In Eph 2, we are told Jesus is sitting, right now, at the right hand of the Father. A few verses later we learn that our spirit is IN the Body of Christ, in heavenly places. Our Spirit has been resurrected from death to life and is now abiding in Christ Jesus in heaven. The Holy Spirit is now in our hearts guiding us.

Our flesh is dying and will die, but we will get a new glorified body. Our spirit is with Jesus in heaven, so the only think left is saving our souls. Our soul is what tells our flesh to do this or that to be happy, avoid death, basically stay alive. Our whole life we have lived by the edicts of our soul, she's pretty, make a pass, fornicate if possible, eat a pound of chocolate, steal money, ect. Now that the Holy Spirit is in us, we are required to submit our soul to the Spirit until the Spirit over rules the soul. If we could over rule our soul completely, we would be "like Jesus".

God is the author and finisher of our faith, so He will finish what was started and we will go to heaven no matter where we are in our walk here on earth as long as we are overcoming the flesh. If we fall off the wagon and go back to the world, I can't say because He is the Judge of our hearts. The heart spoken of is NOT the blood pump, but the soul in us. If our souls are submitting to the Spirit then we are one with God, When it doesn't submit, how can we say we are one with God?

God doesn't require perfection here on earth, That is what Grace covers, but that our hearts are changing to be more Christ like. He knows our hearts. He is looking for lovers of Him, not slaves.

Explaining a Triune God is more accurate that explaining the Trinity. God is One in 3 parts, not 3 Gods separated from one another. We were created in God's image, but obviously God doesn't look like us. Explaining the spiritual world is like explaining the Grand Canyon to someone who has never seen it. Even a photo doesn't do it justice.

18 posted on 12/20/2016 10:06:11 AM PST by chuckles
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To: tired&retired

This is also the reason that time and space collapse as we grow spiritually. If our consciousness expands toward Jesus within whom we all exist, then all other human beings also exist within us and we realize that we on earth are all one. (This is why “Loving thy Brother is also Loving God... 1 Peter 4)

Yesterday at approximately 3 pm I went through a full blown physical and emotional traumatic experience that was not my own. It was not until 5 pm that I learned that the event creating the experience in me was being experienced by a very close friend over 450 miles and about 8 hrs drive away. We had not communicated at all during the day, nor was the event expected by either of us. When I felt the trauma, it felt as though I had been run over by a truck, both physically and emotionally. Immediately at 3 pm, I left my office and went to another room for prayer and meditation in order to raise my consciousness above the level of pain. The prayerful energy flowing into me was felt by my friend over 450 miles away at the same time.

My friend and I both existed within Jesus and I was experiencing her experience through our Jesus connection. This is also how I read the thoughts and stored memories of people around me as they exist within me. Jesus did the same thing many times in the New Testament.

Remember Him saying, John 14:12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father..... Jesus was not lying!!!

19 posted on 12/20/2016 10:16:08 AM PST by tired&retired (Blessings)
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To: Salvation; xzins; Gamecock

Nothing like a silly question to bring out all the heretics on Free Republic. ;-)

20 posted on 12/20/2016 10:18:50 AM PST by P-Marlowe (Freep mail me if you want to be on my Fingerstyle Acoustic Guitar Ping list.)
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