The Baltimore Catechism: Lesson 7

ON THE INCARNATION AND REDEMPTION

“Incarnation” means to take flesh, as a body. Here it means Our Lord’s taking flesh, that is, taking a body like ours, when He became man. “Redemption” means to buy back. Let us take an example. Slaves are men or women that belong entirely to their masters, just as horses, cows, or other animals do. Slaves are bought and sold, never receive any wages for their work, get their food and clothing and no more. As they never earn money for themselves, they can never purchase their own liberty. If ever they are to be free, someone else must procure their liberty. Now, suppose I am in some country where slavery exists. I am free, but I want one hundred dollars; so I go to a slave owner and say: I want to sell myself for one hundred dollars. He buys me and I soon squander the one hundred dollars. Now I am his property, his slave; I shall never earn any wages and shall never be able to buy my freedom. No other slave can help me, for he is just in the same condition as I myself am. If I am to be free, a free man who has the money must pay for my liberty. This is exactly the condition in which all men were before Our Lord redeemed them. Adam sold himself and all his children to the devil by committing sin. He and they therefore became slaves. They could not earn any spiritual wages, that is, grace of God to purchase their liberty; and as all men were slaves one could not help another in this matter. Then Our Lord Himself came and purchased our freedom. He bought us back again, and the price He paid was His own life and blood given up upon the Cross. In His goodness, He did more than redeem us; He gave us also the means of redeeming ourselves in case we should ever have the misfortune of falling again into the slavery of the devil-into sin. He left us the Sacrament of Penance to which we can go as to a bank, and draw out enough of Our Lord’s grace-merited for us and deposited in the power of His Church-to purchase our redemption from sin.

60. Q. Did God abandon man after he fell into sin?

A. God did not abandon man after he fell into sin, but promised him a Redeemer, who was to satisfy for man’s sin and reopen to him the gates of Heaven.

“Abandon” means to leave to one’s self. Adam and his posterity were slaves, but God took pity on them. He did not leave them to themselves, but promised to help them.

“Gates of Heaven:” Heaven has no gates, because it is not built of material-of stone, or iron, or wood. It is only our way of speaking; just as we say “hand of God,’ although He has no hands. Heaven is the magnificent home God has prepared for us, and its gates are His power by which He keeps us out or lets us in as He pleases. Our Lord, therefore, obtained admittance for us.

61. Q. Who is the Redeemer?

A. Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of mankind.

62. Q. What do you believe of Jesus Christ?

A. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, true God and true man.

“True God:” He was true God equal to His Father from all eternity. He became man when He came upon the earth about 2,000 years ago, and was born on Christmas Day. Now He is in Heaven as God and man. Therefore, He was God always, but man only from the time of His Incarnation.

63. Q. Why is Jesus Christ true God?

A. Jesus Christ is true God because He is the true and only Son of God the Father.

God the Father, first Person of the Blessed Trinity, is His real Father, and St. Joseph was His foster-father, selected by the Heavenly Father to take care of Our Lord and watch over Him while on earth. A foster-father is not the same as a stepfather. A stepfather is a second father that one gets when his real father dies. A foster-father is one who takes a person, whether a relative or a stranger, and adopts him as his son.

It was a very great honor for St. Joseph to be selected from among all men to take care of the Son of God; to carry in his arms the great One of whom the prophets spoke; the One for whom the whole world longed during so many thousand years; so that next to our Blessed Mother St. Joseph deserves our greatest honor.

64. Q. Why is Jesus Christ true man?

A. Jesus Christ is true man because He is the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and has a body and soul like ours.

He has all that we have by nature, but not the things we have acquired such as deformities, imperfections, and the like. Everything in Our Lord was perfect. Above all, He had no sin of any kind; nor even inclination to sin. He could be hungry, as He was when He fasted forty days in the desert. (Matt. 4:2). He was thirsty, as He said on the Cross. (John 19:28). He could be wearied; as we read in the Holy Scripture (John 4:6) that He sat down by a well to rest, while His disciples went into the city to buy food. All these sufferings come from our very nature. We say a thing comes from our very nature when everybody has it. Now, everyone in the world may at times be hungry, thirsty, or tired; but everybody in the world need not have a toothache or headache, because such things are not common to human nature, but due to some defect in our body; and such defects Our Lord did not have, because He was a perfect man. Therefore, Our Lord had a body like ours, not as it usually is with defects, but as it should be, perfect in all things that belong to its nature, as Adam’s was before he sinned.

65. Q. How many natures are there in Jesus Christ?

A. In Jesus Christ there are two natures: the nature of God and the nature of man.

He was perfect God and perfect man. His human nature was under the full power of His divine nature, and could not do anything contrary to His divine will. You cannot understand how there can be two natures and two wills in one person, because it is another of the great mysteries; but you must believe it, just as you believe there are three Persons in one God, though you do not understand it. Those who learn theology and study a great deal may understand it better than you, but never fully. It will be enough, therefore, for you to remember and believe that there are two natures-the divine nature and the human nature-in the one person of Our Lord.

66. Q. Is Jesus Christ more than one person?

A. No, Jesus Christ is but one Divine Person.

“But one;” so that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of God, the Messias, Christ, Jesus, Our Lord, Our Saviour, Our Redeemer, etc., are all names for the one Person; and, besides these, there are many other names given to Our Lord in the Holy Scripture, both in the Old and the New Testaments.

67. Q. Was Jesus Christ always God?

A. Jesus Christ was always God, as He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, equal to His Father from all eternity.

68. Q. Was Jesus Christ always man?

A. Jesus Christ was not always man, but became man at the time of His Incarnation.

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