ZT The Fitness of Incarnation


Excerpt from book Thomas Aquinas – Spiritual Master | Robert Barron |


(S.TH. IIIa, q.1, art. 1 - Whether it was fitting that God should become incarnate?)

“… For the great mystic Dionysius, goodness is like a fountain, constantly overflowing, or like the sun, naturally radiating out, communicating almost in spite of itself. Or in more psychological terms, it is like a joyful person who simply cannot keep his good cheer to himself. The good spills over, speaks itself, shine forth. What the first Christians sensed in Jesus Christ is that God has utterly spoken himself, that God has indeed sent his Word, his very self, his own life, And for Thomas Aquinas, it is precisely this insight into God’s playfulness and capacity for self-offering that convinces Christians of the unspeakable goodness of the divine power. It is the self-forgetfulness of God, made visible in Jesus, that persuade us finally of God’s superabundant generosity. If God had not become incarnate, if God had not joined us in our creatureliness, God would remain a limited, finite good, still to some degree, restricted in love. In a word, the Christian discovers in Jesus Christ that God’s being is fully ecstatic. God’s nature is to step outside of himself, to forget himself in love.…” 

(S.TH. IIIa, q.1, art. 2 - Whether it was necessary for the restoration of the human race that the Word of God should become incarnate?)

“… What one notices, in the course of the complex play of objection and response in this article, is once more the emphasis upon the divine surplus. The Respondeo begins with a distinction between two types of necessity: what one might call “strict” and “convenient” necessity. Thomas says that food, for instance, is strictly necessary for the preservation of life,… whereas a horse is conveniently necessary for a journey, …

According to the first mode (of necessity), it was not necessary for God to become incarnate in order to restore the human race; indeed, through his omnipotent power, God could have restored human nature in a variety of other ways. According to the second mode, however, it was necessary for God to become incarnate in order to restore human nature. Hence Augustine says:” We Shall also show that other ways were not wanting to God, to whose power all things are equally subject; but that there was not a more fitting way of healing our misery.” 

Though God could have brought human beings back into right relationship with him in a lesser way, there was no more fitting, no more extravagant and perfect a way to inaugurate salvation than through Incarnation. God’s becoming human was not a merely sufficient means to obtain the end of redemption; it was salvation through surplus and surprise. …”