Fr. Alexander of Hales, O.F.M. – “Doctor Doctorum” (+1245) – on the appropriateness of the Incarnation, sin or no sin

The Franciscan Fr. Alexander of Hales (+1245) has been called the Doctor Doctorum because he was the Master and Professor of the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure during his time at the University of Paris. He was also called the Doctor Irrefragibilis by Pope Alexander IV in the Bull De Fontibus Paradisi, as well as the Theologorum Monarcha. Obviously St. Thomas did not find him “irrefutable” since he uses Fr. Alexander’s argument of Good being diffusive of itself as a reason for the Incarnation even if there were no sin and then tries to refute it! (cf. St. Thomas’ Summa Theo. P.3, Q.I, art. I). At any rate, I have found three of Fr. Alexander’s arguments on this topic and translated them into English. They all come from his own Summa Theolog. P.III, Q.III, memb.XIII. Since I found these passages in secondary sources, I’m not sure which order they appear in his Summa; but each argument stands on its own, so the order does not matter. Here are some of his arguments (my translation):

Consequently, one asks about the appropriateness [convenientia] of the Incarnation if human nature had not fallen by sin, that is, whether there would be a reason and appropriateness for the Incarnation. And this is shown as follows:

Without conceding to prejudice, even if human nature had not fallen there would have been an appropriateness for the Incarnation; according to what blessed Bernard says about Jonas 1:12: ‘For my sake this great tempest is upon you’ – he asserts that this word is about the Son of God by saying that Lucifer foresaw the rational creature being assumed in the unity of the Person of the Son of God; he saw this and envied. Hence envy was the cause in the devil’s case and it moved him to tempt man whose felicity he envied so that by sin he might demerit the assumption of human nature and its unification with God. From this it is clear that Lucifer understood this union of the human nature [with God], and he thought to make it fall in order to impede this union; for this reason he procures the fall. This being the case, therefore, setting aside the fall it would be appropriate for the Incarnation to have taken place.

Dionysius said: Good is diffusive of itself; thus we say that in God the Father pours out His goodness in the Son by generation and from both of Them it is poured out in the Holy Spirit by procession; and this outpouring is in the Trinity and this is the greatest outpouring, the creature not existing. Therefore, if the highest Good – once a creature exists – did not pour Himself out into the creature, it would be possible to imagine a greater outpouring [i.e. ad extra as well as ad intra] than that of His own outpouring [i.e. ad intra only]. If He must be the greatest outpouring because He is the highest Good, it would be appropriate for Him to pour Himself out in the creature; but this outpouring could not be understood as the greatest unless He united Himself to the creature… Therefore, I assert that without the fall man would have been united to the highest Good.

Moreover, there is no beatitude except in God and the rational creature is fully capable of beatitude; but the rational creature which is man has a twofold cognition, that is, the sensible and intellectual, and he has pleasure in both of these. If, therefore, man is fully capable of beatitude according to the senses and the intellect, it would thus be proper that man be blessed in God in both of these. But God considered in His own Nature can not beatify the senses, but only the intellect, because the senses do not find blessing or delight except in the sensible alone or in that which is corporal. If, therefore, the whole man must be beatified in God, it would be appropriate that in God there be the corporal and sensible.

Abbot Rupert of Deutz, O.S.B. (+1129): Sin or no sin, God’s design was to send Christ as King and Head of the Elect

In Book 13 of his work De Gloria et Honore Filii Hominis sup. Matth. the great Abbot, Rupert of Deutz, establishes that all things were created for Christ and goes on to give an excellent argument demonstrating that the primary motive of the Incarnation was by no means the remedy of man’s fall. Amazingly, the 1531 printing of the entire book can be found online and I took the liberty to take snapshots of the two pertinent passages (to see the passages in context and even the entire book, just click on the image).

[To see Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on the Christology of Abbot Rupert of Deutz click here. I’ve also put the video of Pope Benedict XVI on Abbot Rupert at the bottom of this post.]

From the Abbot’s pen (my translation):

Now in regard to this one should recall the extremely important and memorable chapter of the Apostle which says: For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, who had brought many children into glory, to perfect the Author of their salvation, by His passion (Heb 2:10). In the first place it should be asked whether this Son of God, to whom this passage refers, would have become man or not even if sin – as a result of which we die – were not to have taken place. Now that He would not have become a mortal man, that He would not have assumed a mortal body, unless man had fallen into sin – as a result of which we all become mortal – no one has any doubt, that is, unless he be an unparalleled infidel. Let us ask whether this future event [the Incarnation] was necessary to the human race in a different way, namely, that the God man should become head and king of all, which He now is; and what would be the response to this? Without a doubt it is certain of all the Saints and Elect that they would all have been born, and they alone, if the fall into sin of the first transgression had not occurred. Hence Father Augustine in the fourteenth book [Ch.23] of The City of God : “But he who says that there should have been neither copulation nor generation but for sin, virtually says that man’s sin was necessary to complete the number of the saints. For if these two by not sinning should have continued to live alone, because, as is supposed, they could not have begotten children had they not sinned, then certainly sin was necessary in order that there might be not only two but many righteous men. And if this cannot be maintained without absurdity, we must rather believe that the number of the saints fit to complete this most blessed city would have been as great though no one had sinned, as it is now that the grace of God gathers its citizens out of the multitude of sinners, so long as the children of this world generate and are generated.”

Therefore, there is no doubt that all the Saints and Elect would have been born right up to the number predetermined by the purpose of God who before sin blessed thus: “Increase and multiply” (Gen 1:28), and it would be absurd to hold that, on account of this blessing, sin was necessary in order for them to be born. Similarly, it would be absurd to hold that He who is the Head and King of all of the elect, both angels and men, would not have been born unless there had been sin as the most necessary cause. He came in order to be a man among men taking His delight through charity with the children of men. He is, therefore, that Wisdom of God of whom the Lord says in this regard: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made any thing from the beginning…” and concludes thus: “When He prepared the heavens, I was present… and my delights were to be with the children of men” (Prov 8).

The Doctrine of the Absolute Primacy of Christ Prior to Scotus (+1308)

The Absolute Primacy of Christ Prior to Bl. John Duns Scotus

If the doctrine of the absolute primacy of Christ, as maintained by Bl. John Duns Scotus and the Franciscan school, is true, then we would expect to find it in Scripture and Tradition, otherwise it would just be a scotistic novelty. St. Paul warns against innovative theological thinking: “For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Tm 4:3).

I have given many solid arguments for the absolute primacy from the Sacred Scripture. In the Old Testament there are especially those passages of Solomon which speak of created Wisdom being before God when He created the universe (for a comment on one of these passages, Prov 8:22ff., see here). In the New Testament the primary passages I have focused on are in the Gospel of St. John (see here) and St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, Ephesians and Romans. These are but highlights, but the mystery of Christ, now revealed to us, can be seen throughout the entire Bible once we have the correct vantage point.

Fair enough, but what about Sacred Tradition? Oftentimes the impression one gets in reading about the absolute primacy of Christ is that Bl. John Duns Scotus made this up and the Franciscan school continues to support this novelty, but otherwise it is nowhere to be found in tradition. Not true. Before Scotus both St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, familiar with the tradition, dealt with the primary motive of the Incarnation and shed light on both sides of the argument. While they sided with a relative primacy of Christ (viz. contingent upon Adam’s sin), there were also their two professors at the University of Paris, St. Albert the Great and Fr. Alexander of Hales who sided with an absolute primacy. Since all four of these great theologians, three of them Doctors of the Church, dealt explicitly with this topic, there can be no question of Scotus being an innovator.

In the East there was St. Maximus the Confessor (+662). Although I have quoted him here, the most thorough presentation I have seen is that of Archpriest G. Florovosky on “The Motive of the Incarnation.” He actually synthesizes the entire tradition on this subject.

In the West it is interesting to note three salient theologians – one in Germany, one in England, one in France – who prior to Scotus (+1308) maintained that Christ’s Incarnation was not the result of Adam’s sin, but decreed by God for its own sake. These three theologians were the Abbot Rupert of Deutz, O.S.B. (+1129) in Germany, Bishop Robert Grosseteste (+1253) in England who taught at the Franciscan school at Oxford starting in 1229, and Fr. Alexander Hales, O.F.M. (+1245) who taught at the University of Paris and was dubbed Doctor Doctorum because he taught the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure. I will be posting some of the insights of these three theologians in future posts.

I would like to conclude by mentioning that three great 20th century scholars on the subject have shown that the absolute primacy of Christ, besides being rooted in the Scripture, is also based on the teaching of the Fathers. The first was Fr. Chrysostom Urrutibéhéty, O.F.M., who wrote a monumental volume in Latin documenting many key arguments for the primacy of Christ largely from the Church Fathers called Christus Alpha et Omega seu De Christi Universali Regno (Lille, France: R. Giard Libraire, 1910). The second work, published in Franciscan Studies vol.22 in 1942, was written by Fr. Dominic Unger, O.F.M.Cap. It was entitled Franciscan Christology: Absolute and Universal Primacy of Christ”. A scanned version of the entire work can be found here. He also wrote many other articles in Franciscan Studies illustrating the doctrine of the absolute primacy from the Fathers of the Church. The third work was put out by Fr. Juniper Carroll, O.F.M., and was entitled Why Jesus Christ?” (Manassas, VA: Trinity Communications, 1986). These three works lay out a generous bibliography of Fathers, Doctors, Saints and theologians throughout the centuries and thus clearly show that the doctrine of the absolute primacy of Christ, rather than being an innovation of Scotus, has been a constant part of the doctrinal heritage of the Church.

If Adam had not sinned, how would Christ have come?

St. Thomas Aquinas (see Summa Theo., P.III, Q.I, Art. 3), St. Bonaventure, Bl. John Duns Scotus, and many others asked the question, “If Adam had not sinned would God have become Incarnate?” -They did this NOT as a hypothetical question, but rather because the answer to the question dilineated what the primary motive of the Incarnation was in God’s plan.

If we follow the “yes” crowd who speak of an unconditional Incarnation: St. Maximus the Confessor, Abbott Rupert of Deutz, Bishop Robert Grosseteste, St. Albert the Great, Fr. Alexander Hales, Bl. John Duns Scotus, St. Bernardine of Sienna, St. John of the Cross, St. Francis de Sales, St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Pope Benedict XVI, etc., then one might ask how would Christ have come? In flesh capable of suffering and dying? Incapable of suffering and dying? In a glorious state?

While this is true speculation since we don’t have any immediate knowledge of exactly how the Incarnation would have taken place in a sinless world, nonetheless it seems clear enough that A) Our Lord would not have come in passible flesh since there would have been no need to redeem the human race by suffering and death, B) Our Lord would not, according to the common opinion of the scotistic school, have come in a glorious state because if He did, He would in no way have been able to merit grace and glory for Angels and mankind.

So the Word would have become flesh in an impassible state had Adam not sinned. Thus not in the likeness of sinful flesh, as St. Paul dubs it, nor in a glorified state incapable of merit.

In a recent correspondence I had with my great Professor in Dogmatic Theology, Fr. Peter M. Fehlner, F.I., on how Christ would have merited for us if He did not come in passible flesh, he wrote me that:

Adam and Eve were impassible before they sinned; so were the Angels before completing their trials. But no one thinks they were not in the state of viator and so incapable of meriting.

In addition Christ would have come in the state of viator, even if Adam had not sinned, because Adam still had to be saved (even if not redeemed) by the merits of Christ by way of an impassibilis sacrifice. But in this scenario human salvation is for the sake of the Incarnation, not vice versa, just as creation is for the sake of the Incarnation and not vice versa.

This is the position of the great Scotists especially of the 17th century… The state of Christ’s coming as man had Adam not sinned is always described as impassible, not glorious.

On the theme of salvation vs. redemption according to the mind of St. Irenaeus, one can read more here.

Fr. Matthias M. Sasko: Primary Motive of the Incarnation… the maximum glory of God

Fr. Matthias Mary concisely sums up the teaching of Bl. John Duns Scotus on the primary motive of the Incarnation in a short homily on the Solemnity of the Annunciation. He points out that the primary motive of the Incarnation is the maximum glory of God and that the Son of God did not become man because the sin of Adam, but despite the sin of Adam.

To view and hear the homily at AirMaria.com please click on the image:

St. Lawrence of Brindisi, Doctor of the Church

St. Lawrence of Brindisi (+1619) was a true champion of the absolute primacy of Christ. Below are some quotes I have translated from his Mariale. In some spots I have inserted the lacking Scripture reference or have written out the Scripture text referred to. To see the Latin quotes as they are reported in Fr. Dominic Unger’s Franciscan Christology click here.

The king loves the only son more than all his servants. Christ was not predestined for the Elect; but the all the Elect for Christ, unto the glory of Christ. Hence St. Paul to the Ephesians 1:3-6: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing on high in Christ. Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish in His sight in love. He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ as His sons, according to the purpose of His will, unto the praise of the glory of His grace, with which He has favored us in His beloved Son.” Here Paul clearly [manifeste] teaches that all of the Elect are predestined unto the glory of Christ. Even in the First Letter to the Corinthians 3:22-23: “For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas; or the world, or life, or death; or things present, or things to come – all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” Everything exists for you, but you exist for Christ. Hence all are servants of Christ, even the Angels: “… in order that through the Church there be made known to the Principalities and the Powers in the heavens the manifold wisdom of God according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph 3:10-11); “… so that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven…” [Phil 1:10]. And to the Hebrews 1:2 he says, “… whom He appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the world…” Writing as well to the Colossians he taught that everything was created for Christ, therefore he says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For in Him were created all things in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers. All things have been created through and unto Him, and He is before all creatures, and in Him all things hold together” (Col 1:15-17). (Mariale, vol I, p.79)

Christ is the foundation of all creatures, all graces, all glory, because He is the end of all things, [the one] for whom all things were created. (Mariale, vol I, p.80)

Not only is He the first predestined creature, but even the final cause of the predestination of the Saints. Thus Paul says, “For those whom He has foreknown He has also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He should be the firstborn among many brethren..” (Rm 8:29). Paul here declares Christ to be the final cause [of the predestination of the Elect] from eternity when he says “that He should be the firstborn,” in dignity and honor, “among many brethren,” that is, in all God’s Elect whom He has adopted as sons. (Mariale, vol I, p.80)

Therefore to Christ be the glory: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:32). God created the universe for the honor and glory of Christ. Just as the entire, most august edifice of the temple was undertaken by Solomon in exceeding and immeasurable pains for the Ark of the Covenant; so for Christ, who is the ark of the Divinity, everything in the world – heaven and earth – was created, with everything contained in the heavenly realm. Whoever is in the kingdom serves the king, is for the king; but Christ says, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Mt 28:18). The Angels in Heaven were created to be servants of Christ; man was formed from the earth in order to be the image of Christ. Thus Paul calls Adam an image of the of the Future One [“a figure of Him who was to come”] (Rm 5:14); thus for the greater glory of Christ man was permitted to be tempted and defeated by the Devil, in order that Christ, in working the salvation of the human race, might show forth the infinite treasures of His divine power. (Mariale, vol I, p.86)

Although this is already quoted on this website here, I thought it well to quote it again in conjunction with the four quotes above:

Therefore, God ordained from all eternity to communicate the infinite treasures of His goodness, to show forth the infinite charity of His mystery by this divine Incarnation in order that Christ might be great and might sit as King at the right hand of God. (Mariale, vol I, p.81-82)

William Gilson Humphry: A Summary of the Franciscan Thesis

I found this on Frank Weathers website Why I am Catholic. It is an excerpt from A Digest of the Doctrine of St. Thomas on the Incarnation by the Anglican cleric William Gilson Humphry written in 1868 which sums up excellently the doctrine of Bl. John Duns Scotus on the Incarnation:

The third view of the Incarnation is that taken by the Scotists, by Suarez, and by many other theologians both ancient and modern. It teaches—and so far in accordance with Thomist theology, that Jesus came principally to save sinners, and for that end came in passible flesh; but here its agreement ceases. It asserts that even if Adam had never sinned, Jesus would yet have come, and come by means of Mary, in impassible flesh; that He was predestinated the Firstborn of creatures before the decree which permitted sin; that the Incarnation was from the first an intentional and integral part of the scheme of creation; that it was not merely occasioned by sin, but that sin only determined the manner of it, and its accompaniments of suffering and death. And it is as regards the manner of the Incarnation alone, as speaking of our Lord’s coming in passible and mortal flesh, that the Scotists understand those passages in Holy Scripture, in the writings of the Fathers, and in the Office Books of the Church, which at first sight seem to make for the Thomist view. The Scotists dwell very much on the doctrine that Jesus was decreed before all creation, and therefore before the permission of sin. They hold that all men exist because of Christ, and not Christ because of them, that all creation was for Him, and was not only decreed subsequently to His predestination, but for His sole sake.

They found again upon His being the First Begotten and Exemplar of the predestinate. And they go on to establish their view by arguments drawn from reason, from the natural order of things, from the relative value of means and ends, from the grace of the unfallen Adam, which is alleged to have been conferred on him because of Christ, from the Incarnation having, as St. Thomas teaches, been revealed to Adam, who, although he lost hope and the love of God when he sinned, did not lose his faith.

They urge further, that on the Thomist view, Christ was only an “occasioned good,” and, a still more unworthy supposition, occasioned by sin; or again, that Christ would have to rejoice in Adam’s sin, as owing to it His existence, grace, and His glory as man.

Again, it is said, that if Christ was decreed after us, and because of us, and only to redeem us, three monstrous consequences would follow:

1. That Christ would owe us a debt of gratitude.

2. That we should in certain respects be more excellent than He.

3. That sin was necessary to His existence.

On the Scotist view of the Incarnation the following would be the order of the Divine Decrees—the order of intention, that is, for there can of course be no order of time with God.

1. God understood Himself as the Sovereign Good.

2. He understood all creatures.

3. He predestinated creatures to grace and glory.

4. He foresaw men falling in Adam.

5. He pre-ordained the Passion of Christ as the remedy for this fall.

Thus Christ in the Flesh, and all the elect members of His mystical Body also, were foreseen and predestined to grace and glory, before the foresight either of sin or of the Passion.

It will be observed that both Thomists and Scotists lay the utmost stress on the doctrine that Jesus came, as He has come, expressly and principally to redeem mankind from sin, and that consequently a remedial character pervades all His mysteries, both such as have to do with His being our example, and such as have to do with His being our atonement, while the same character is stamped also upon His enactments as our legislator.

Further, the Thomists allow that redemption from sin was by no means the sole end of the Incarnation. They admit that the manifestation of the Divine Omnipotence, Wisdom, and Goodness was one end, and the Headship of the whole Church of angels and men was another.

St. Athanasius – Christ before the ages

In his 2nd Discourse against the Arians (nn.75-76) St. Athanasius, based on Prov 8:23-25, 2 Tim 1:8-10 and Eph 1:3-5, clearly affirms our predestination in Christ before the world was created. Although he doesn’t draw the same conclusion as St. Maximus and Bl. John Duns Scotus, namely, the absolute predestination of Christ even if Adam had not sinned, nonetheless he confirms that the tradition of the early Church Fathers always held the predestination of Christ prior to the fall, prior to creation itself. If we were predestined in Christ Jesus to be God’s adopted children before the creation of the world, before the ages, and thus before the fall, then it is reasonable to say that the Sacred Humanity of Christ was predestined to the glory of the hypostatic union prior to any consideration of sin. Here is the text of St. Athanasius of Alexandria (+373):

75. Nor let the words ‘before the world’ and ‘before He made the earth’ and ‘before the mountains were settled’ disturb any one; for they very well accord with ‘founded’ and ‘created;’ for here again allusion is made to the Economy according to the flesh. For though the grace which came to us from the Saviour appeared, as the Apostle says, just now, and has come when He sojourned among us; yet this grace had been prepared even before we came into being, nay, before the foundation of the world  […] He [the Christ] should have been created for us ‘a beginning of the ways,’ and He who was the ‘First-born of creation’ should become ‘first-born’ of the ‘brethren,’ and again should rise ‘first-fruits of the dead.’ This Paul the blessed Apostle teaches in his writings; for, as interpreting the words of the Proverbs ‘before the world’ and ‘before the earth was,’ he thus speaks to Timothy ; ‘Be partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and brought to light life’ (2 Tm 1:8-10). And to the Ephesians; ‘Blessed be God even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself’ (Eph 1:3-5).

76. How then has He chosen us, before we came into existence, but that, as he says himself, in Him we were represented beforehand? And how at all, before men were created, did He predestinate us unto adoption, but that the Son Himself was ‘founded before the world,’ taking on Him that economy which was for our sake? Or how, as the Apostle goes on to say, have we ‘an inheritance being predestinated,’ but that the Lord Himself was founded ‘before the world,’ inasmuch as He had a purpose, for our sakes, to take on Him through the flesh all that inheritance of judgment which lay against us, and we henceforth were made sons in Him? And how did we receive it ‘before the world was,’ when we were not yet in being, but afterwards in time, but that in Christ was stored the grace which has reached us? Wherefore also in the Judgment, when every one shall receive according to his conduct, He says, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ (Mt 25:34). How then, or in whom, was it prepared before we came to be, save in the Lord who ‘before the world’ was founded for this purpose; that we, as built upon Him, might partake, as well-compacted stones, the life and grace which is from Him? And this took place, as naturally suggests itself to the religious mind, that, as I said, we, rising after our brief death, may be capable of an eternal life, of which we had not been capable , men as we are, formed of earth, but that ‘before the world’ there had been prepared for us in Christ the hope of life and salvation. Therefore reason is there that the Word, on coming into our flesh, and being created in it as ‘a beginning of ways for His works,’ is laid as a foundation according as the Father’s will was in Him before the world, as has been said, and before land was, and before the mountains were settled, and before the fountains burst forth; that, though the earth and the mountains and the shapes of visible nature pass away in the fullness of the present age, we on the contrary may not grow old after their pattern, but may be able to live after them, having the spiritual life and blessing which before these things have been prepared for us in the Word Himself according to election. For thus we shall be capable of a life not temporary, but ever afterwards abide and live in Christ; since even before this our life had been founded and prepared in Christ Jesus.

Although St. Athanasius indicates that the Incarnation of the Word was occasioned by sin (the divine architect foreseeing the need for reparation), nonetheless he also points out theosis (or divinization) as another motive of the Incarnation, one which is so dear to the Orthodox. He writes, “For He was made man that we might be made God” (On the Incarnation, sect. 54); and again, “for as the Lord, putting on the body, became man, so we men are deified by the Word as being taken to Him through His flesh” (3rd Discourse Against the Arians, n.34). He, in essence, is reiterating the words of St. Irenaeus: “If the Word has been made man, it is so that men may be made gods” (Adv. Haer V, Pref.). The teaching of theosis is rooted in the apostolic teaching itself (cf. 2 Pt 1:4; Rm 8:9) and is exquisitely expressed in the Divine Liturgy of the East and West in the prayer during the mingling of the water and wine: “By the mystery of this water in wine, may we come to share in the Divinity of Christ, who humbled Himself to share in our humanity” (Roman Missal – deacon or priest at the Preparation of the Gifts); “You have united, O Lord, Your Divinity with our humanity and our humanity with Your Divinity; Your life with our mortality and our mortality with Your life. You have assumed what is ours and You have given us what is Yours for the life and salvation of our souls. To You be glory forever” (Rite of Intinction – Maronite Rite).

Pope Francis: Col 1:16 refers to Christ

Pope Francis and the Dove

In his encyclical Laudato si Pope Francis confirms the christocentric reading of Colossians 1. Although this is nothing new (see HERE), it is an important confirmation that “all things” [Gk – τὰ πάντα / Latin – universa] are created through and for Christ, the Word Incarnate (sin or no sin). Here is the Pope’s text:

“In the Christian understanding of the world, the destiny of all creation is bound up with the mystery of Christ, present from the beginning: ‘All things have been created though him and for him’ (Col 1:16).”  (Laudato si, n.99).

Noteworthy, also, is his affirmation of the presence of the mystery of Christ “from the beginning,” a theme which I have elaborated on at length elsewhere (see HERE). Since all creation has been created through and for Christ, it follows that creation is a gift of God which exists primarily for Christ and which has been entrusted to our care. The universe exists primarily to give glory to God through, with and in Christ Jesus, but it also exists to serve our needs and to draw us from the beauty of creation to Beauty Himself, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, who utterly transcends all that is created.

Ave Maria!