Did Jesus as Man Know Each of Us?

Lesson from Pius XII: Answer is “yes”.  As man, with a human mind, Jesus knew each of us, and very intimately. As he hung on the Cross, he had us in mind. Hence, truly, he gave himself ‘for me’ as Paul proclaims. Let us honor the King of Kings.

For, as the Spaniards say, “He is fully man, yes, but no vulgar man.” Let us not measure his humanity against the narrow confines of our imagination.

From his marvelous encyclical Mystici corporis, art. 75:

75. Now the only-begotten Son of God embraced us in His infinite knowledge and undying love even before the world began. And that He might give a visible and exceedingly beautiful expression to this love, He assumed our nature in hypostatic union: hence – as Maximus of Turin with a certain unaffected simplicity remarks – “in Christ our own flesh loves us.”[156] But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all that the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the Beatific Vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced them with His redeeming love. O marvelous condescension of divine love for us! O inestimable dispensation of boundless charity! In the crib, on the Cross, in the unending glory of the Father, Christ has all the members of the Church present before Him and united to Him in a much clearer and more loving manner than that of a mother who clasps her child to her breast, or than that with which a man knows and loves himself.

Pius is in fact simply reiterating, though authoritatively, the Tradition.

8 thoughts on “Did Jesus as Man Know Each of Us?

  1. This reminds me… I was talking to someone the other day and they suggested that Jesus, at least for a time, did not know he was divine! Some very strange things people come up with.

    The only objection I could muster on the spot was that: Jesus knew his mission was to redeem mankind. But this redemption could only take place by way of condign merit. But this condign merit of the very principle of merit requires an infinite, divine person acting through a human nature. Therefore, Jesus knew he was divine.

    Of course, Scotists won’t think that works. And, moreover, it seems imperfect that Jesus would know of his divinity only by some acquired discursive work instead of more simply by infused knowledge, or through the beatific vision, etc.

    1. This opinion is lamentable, but not a few hold it. That they hold it with impunity shows the state in which we find ourselves. Christ will right his Church, but these are the days in which guidance wanes, wisdom dims, while the treacherous wax and increase, and so, many who are neither zealous for truth nor malicious, are being deceived.

      Pius XII: From the moment of his conception in the womb of Mary, Jesus knew as man that he was God.

      1. I recall Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus,” the t.v. adaptation of his book on Nat Geo. I watched it during Holy Week with my family, and I was fuming by the end of it. Among its many heresies, it had Jesus “learning” that he was the Christ, being encouraged by John the Baptist to become…essentially an Arian Jesus. He is a mere man who works a couple of neat tricks (the only miracles include him hugging a “demoniac” child and the miraculous catch of fish), and the resurrection is shown as some ethereal sense of his memory living on. It’s an attempt at a historical reconstruction of Jesus, and it “de-mythologizes” the gospel with gusto.

        My point is, we have crap like this coming out, and good Christians assume this is accurate. We need more “The Passion of the Christ” and less “Killing Jesus.” Bad Christology is everywhere.

      2. Amen brother. Amen. Ratzinger once decried that we have only a “paper Christianity.” In other words, lots of conferences and meetings, but no prayer and sanctity and good works. Amen. But worse, so much of the paper, which ought to lead to prayer and works and above all worship, is just that – crap.

        There is a text that I recommend that’s pretty darn good, and relatively up to date. It is “The Mystery of Jesus Christ,” by Ocáriz et alia.

  2. Pius XII’s teaching on Christ’s human knowledge is now out of favor with many theologians. Yet this was not always the case. In the first chapter of Did the Saviour See the Father: Christ, Salvation and the Vision of God, Fr. Simon Gaine documents how consensus on that topic has changed over the course of the twentieth century. As Gaine shows, throughout much of the twentieth century both theologians and the Magisterium taught that Christ possessed the beatific vision during his earthly life. In the 1950s Karl Rahner began to question this teaching. We have now arrived at the point where Catholic theologians commonly deny that Christ possessed the beatific vision. Gaine also shows that after Pius XII the Magisterium went through a period where statements about Christ’s human knowledge during his earthly life could plausibly be read as being compatible with either affirming or denying that Christ possessed the beatific vision. The Catechism promulgated by John Paul II, for instance, does not explicitly attribute the beatific vision to Christ, even though it attributes intimate knowledge of the Father to his human intellect. The ambiguity of this and other recent statements from the Magisterium on Christ’s knowledge, however, was put into a new light by the CDF’s notification on the work of Jon Sobrino. As Gaine points out, this notification teaches that the statements of the Catechism on Christ’s human knowledge must be understood as being in continuity with Pius XII’s teaching in Mystici corporis. The remainder of Gaine’s book offers an extremely persuasive argument for attributing the beatific vision to Christ from the first moment of the Incarnation. Gaine takes into account the biblical evidence, the teachings of the Church Fathers, the writings of Aquinas, and the arguments of recent theologians.

    1. Thanks very much for this articulate contribution. I’m putting this on my wish list. Another text: A former colleague of mine, Bill Brownsberger, also wrote on Christ, touching on his knowledge and how this connects to our salvation. http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Mediator-William-L-Brownsberger/dp/0813221196

      The one comment I’d like to make regarding your response is this. It seems, perhaps unwittingly, to suggest that silence is erasure. I don’t accept this as a good hermeneutic. Silence is not erasure. I take it that once an authoritative teaching is built up, an act of such authority is required to take it down – provided, obviously, it was not infallible to begin with.

      The silence, for instance, on “extra ecclesia” is deafening, but by no means deconstructive of dogma. Perish the thought, or perish the soul. Since that one is dogma, this is an open and shut case. A trickier example is Social Teaching. The Kingship of Christ, for instance, and its implications for Church and State. Silence here, I argue, is not erasure.

    2. Just for the record, the Catechism attributes “immediate knowledge” of the Father to Christ in #473 when discussing his human knowledge. That seems to be a clear reference to the beatific vision (since what other knowledge could be “immediate”–i.e., knowledge of God without a mediating concept), though the lack of the traditional term “beatific vision” is lamentable.

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