Monday, May 30, 2011

The humility of the eternal Son

In itself and as such, then, humility is not alien to the nature of the true God, but supremely proper to Him in His mode of being as the Son. ...

It must be considered what is implied by the assumptio carnis. It is not merely that God willed not to be alone, but to co-exist as the Creator with the creature. It is not merely that He willed to bind and pledge Himself to the human creature. For the reconciliation of the estranged world with Himself, He, the Creator, willed to exist as a creature Himself. He, the Lord of the covenant, willed to be also its human partner and therefore the keeper of the covenant on this side too. This is the depth to which He willed to descend from His throne, and the height to which He willed to exalt the creature man to the right hand of His throne. For what reason? ... Why? In the face of God Himself as the First and the Last we can only say: Because He is the God of this mercy, and of the power of a mercy which is so radical and total. There is no sense in trying to find or give any other reason for the fact that the Word became flesh, and therefore for this assumptio. We can only say that in its great inconceivability - always new and surprising when we try to conceive it - this reason is holy and righteous and worthy of God because it corresponds to the humility of the eternal Son as it takes place in supreme reality in the intra-trinitarian life of God Himself; and although it cannot be deduced from this, in the light of it it can be recognised as a reason which is in itself both clear and well-founded. ...

It is He, the Son of God, who becomes the Son of Man. It is He who descends so deep down to man in order to lift him up so high. It is He who goes into the far country in order that man may return home. He does not do this without the Father, but, as the Gospel of John constantly reiterates, He does it as the One who is sent by the Father, with whom He is one. He takes this downward way in the omnipotence of the Father, which will be manifest even in the depths as His glory. He does it as the One who is eternally loved by the Father, and loves Him eternally in return. ...

This God as such is the Subject of the incarnation, of the assumption of human being into unity with Himself and therefore with His essence. But He is this in His mode of being as the Son, and not as the Father or the Holy Spirit. For - as we had first to show - it is in His mode of being as the Son, as the eternally Begotten of the Father, and to that extent, although of the same essence, first loved by Him and then loving Him in return, as the one who is in order secondary and therefore obedient to Him, that He is the one God in His humility. It is to Him therefore, to God in this mode of being, that the act of humility of the incarnation corresponds. ...

This is the work of the eternal Son, determined in God's eternal decree and taking place in time, as the meaning and basis and power of the reconciliation of the world with God. It can be His work, and it must indeed be His, because He - the one God in the mode of being of the Son - in unity with the Father and the Holy Ghost, in the deepest harmony of the whole Holy Trinity of the one God - is the humble God, and therefore exalted with the Father and the Holy Ghost.

(Church Dogmatics, §64.2)