Did the Infant Christ know all things? This is a puzzling question.
Christ is fully God who knows all things. Yet Christ is fully human and humans must learn things. So when it comes to knowledge, did Christ learn or did he already know all things from infancy? Thanks be to God, Saint Thomas Aquinas provides us with a great answer to this difficult question.
Saint Thomas writes:
Therefore it is manifest that in the first instant of His conception Christ received not only as much grace as comprehensors have, but also greater than that which they all have. And because that grace was not without its act, it follows that He was a comprehensor in act, seeing God in His Essence more clearly than other creatures.” (Summa theologiae III, q. 34, a. 4)
In other words, from His human conception, Christ had the perfect beatific vision of God’s Essence. He was never broken off from God because He is God. This is why Mary is called the “Mother of God.” The Child in her womb is God Himself. Since Christ was a perfect comprehensor of His Divine Essence, He knew all things. Of course, he assimilated knowledge in a human way as He grew. Yet Christ always had access to the ineffable mysteries of God and all creation through the vision of His Divine Essence.
Christ’s priestly ministry was active as soon as He was conceived. Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that Christ began to merit for our salvation as soon as He entered the womb of Mary. This entails that the infant Christ knew He was the Savior of humanity even when He was an embryo.
This is a wonderful mystery.
So then, Christ had access to all knowledge. He possessed all knowledge from conception as a human embryo. However, as information knowledge began to pass through His five senses, this acquired knowledge accumulated in the natural way. In this way, He learned as a human what He already knew as God.
For example, Christ already knew the entire vocabulary and grammatical structure of Aramaic in the womb by virtue of the beatific vision. However, he also acquired the knowledge of Aramaic in the human way from Joseph and Mary.
Contrast this to His knowledge of medieval German. Christ already knew the entire vocabulary and grammatical structure of medieval German. However, He never did acquire the knowledge of medieval German in the human way through the five senses. Nevertheless, He had perfectly mastery of medieval German and Aramaic (and even Chinese) by virtue of His beatific vision of the Divine Essence.
So the summary answer is that Christ knew all things, but in addition to this He came to know some things in the human mode of experience – like Aramaic and carpentry.
Question: Some have taught that Christ eventually “discovered” that He was the Messiah and Son of God. That He had a personal epiphany. This is actually a form of Arianism – a denial of His divine nature. Christ was communicating with the Holy Trinity even in the womb and He knew Who He was/is. He always knew that He was the Second Person of the Trinity. Have you ever been taught that Christ was ignorant of His mission or identity. Please leave a comment and share your experience.
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