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the humanity of christ

Aquinas thinks that Christ fully experienced the human state, including learning things, being surprised, and experiencing wonder, hunger, thirst, and suffering, just like everyone else. He did this “to prove the genuineness of his human nature, and give us an example of virtue.” (3a, 15, 1)

And he thought that Christ had normal human desires. “Flesh has a natural sensory desire for what delights it, but in man - a reasoning animal - it desires this in a reasonable manner or measure. And that is the way Christ’s flesh had a natural sensory desire for food and drink and sleep and whatever it is reasonable to desire.” (3a, 15, 2) Aquinas saw Christ as in no way drawn to sin and as always reasonable, as you would imagine a happy person to be. And he doesn’t think the death of Christ was inevitable but something he accepted on purpose: it was an act of will.

what it really means to be human

In Robert Heinlein's novel Stranger in a Strange Land, when we see the characters greeting one another with the phrase "thou are God," we may find it a bit jarring. But that is the heart of what the Incarnation means.

The attributes of self-awareness, will and reason, which appeared in humans in the Garden and which distinguish and separate us from the other life forms on the planet, are the attributes which get us into trouble but also are the ones that create our trajectory towards God. With Christ as a model, we see what it really means to be human. Christ is the living proof of concept that it's possible for humans to grow into the happy self-awareness of the divine.

adoption

This is so, according to Aquinas, because Christ gets us adopted by God. This means that we can become like the Son, participating in our limited human way in the self-awareness of God as described by the Trinity, and in the love that results.

Christ makes the Trinity the new model for consciousness. "Thinking creatures resemble the Word both in its form and in its mentality, as a student's knowledge resembles his teacher's idea; and by grace and charity those who are divinely adopted resemble the eternal Word of God in his union with the Father: that they may be one with us, as we are also one. Adoption is a privilege reserved to thinking creatures, but actually possessed only by those in whose hearts the Spirit of adoption as sons pours out his love of charity." (3A, 23, 3)

Christ's purpose in the Incarnation is to share with thinking creatures the self-aware love and joy of the Trinity, but for us to claim it, we need the love of charity, which Christ's life modeled and about which Christ spend his life teaching.

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"Adoptive sonship is an imitation of natural sonship, common to the whole Trinity, but appropriated to the Father as author, to the Son as model and to the Holy Spirit as imprinting in a likeness to the model."
(3A, 23, 2)

 

"The function of a mediator is to bring together those between whom he mediates."
(3A, 26,1)

 
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