Tuesday, December 16, 2003

An interesting question...

Yesterday, on a MB I frequent, a catechumen asked the following question:

I have read people at [MB], mostly Catholic and Orthodox, referring to Christmas as a celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus. Wouldn't the Annunciation be the Incarnation? If not, why not?

Now, as a pro-lifer, my first thought would be to answer that the Annunciation was the Incarnation because that would provide the strongest theological support to the "life begins at conception" argument. If Jesus was Jesus the minute He was conceived than that is that.

However, St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theologica does not seem to agree with me, for he says:

Objection 2: Further, the Blessed Virgin believed in the Incarnation, for to disbelieve therein excludes man from the way of salvation; because, as the Apostle says (Rm. 3:22): "The justice of God (is) by faith of Jesus Christ." But one needs no further instruction concerning what one believes without doubt. Therefore the Blessed Virgin had no need for the Incarnation of her Son to be announced to her.

Reply to Objection 2: The Blessed Virgin did indeed believe explicitly in the future Incarnation; but, being humble, she did not think such high things of herself. Consequently she required instruction in this matter.

So, what's the deal here? St. Thomas (bold emphasis is mine) says that, at the Annunciation, the Blessed Virgin Mary believed in the future Incarnation. Now, if my limited exposure to Thomist theology is correct, St. Thomas Aquinas says that a human is only human once the body becomes flesh (ie: the soul inhabits the body). However, I have read nothing by him where he states exactly when this happens.

Hmmm... food for thought, no?

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