Whether Our Lord “thought of me above all?”

Objection 1: It would seem that Christ, in his humanity, thought of me above all. For the Apostle writes “let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5)

Objection 2: Further, it would seem that Christ in his Godhead thought of me above all. For the Apostle continues that Christ “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men!” (Philippians 2:6-7).

Objection 3: It would seem that Christ in his capacity as redeemer thought of me above all, for as Our Lord once said, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4)

On the contrary, in both his humanity and Godhead, Christ thought of the Divine Essence above all.

I reply that thought is an operation, and operations are directed toward a thing’s last end, and a thing may have only one last end (I, q.1, a.5). In both his humanity and Godhead, Christ’s last end is the Divine Essence. Consequently, Christ cannot be said to have thought of me above all, but rather of the Divine Essence.

Reply to Obj 1: When the Apostle writes of Christ looking not on his “own things”, he speaks not of Christ looking not on his own last end, but of looking not on what may seem to be last ends to men, such as Augustine identifies: “pleasure, repose, the gifts of nature, and virtue” (De Civ. Dei xix, 1). In esteeming us above himself, Christ desired our achievement of our last end above those apparent last ends of his own. Augustine says (De Trin. xiii, 3) that all men agree in desiring the last end, which is happiness, and we have said that final and perfect happiness for man is found only in the vision of the Divine Essence (I.II, q.3, a.8). In esteeming us above himself, Christ would have thought of our achievement of this last end above achievement of his own apparent last ends. Consequently, it must be said that Christ thought of the Divine Essence above all.

Reply to Obj 2: When the Apostle says Christ thought it not robbery to be equal with God, he does not say that Christ in the divine intellect ceased to think most highly of his divinity, for the perfection of the divine intellect consists in its knowledge of itself. The Philosopher proves this when he says, “Since, then, thought and the object of thought are not different in the case of things that have not matter, the divine thought and its object will be the same, i.e. the thinking will be one with the object of its thought” (Phys. xii, 9). This is not to say the divine intellect cannot think of other things, for though its perfection consists in its very knowledge of the divine essence, in that essence it yet knows other things (I, q.14, a.5). Yet in his Godhead, which is without matter, Christ must therefore be said to have thought of the Divine Essence above all.

Reply to Obj. 3: As Ambrose has said, the ninety-nine are “the innumerable herds of angels, the archangels, the dominions, the powers, the thrones (Col., I, 16), and others, which he has left on the heights.” As we know, these angels who have attained beatitude cannot now sin, as their beatitude consists in seeing God in his essence (I, q.62, a.8). In leaving the ninety-nine then, Christ does not count anything higher than contemplation of the Divine Essence, for those whom he left cannot cease during his departure to contemplate this essence. Further, his purpose in finding the one sheep is that it would be returned to this flock whose beatitude unfailingly consists of such blessed contemplation, for we know that man’s soul and an angel alike are ordained for beatitude, and consequently equality with angels is promised to the saints (I, q.62, a.5). Therefore it must be maintained that Christ thought of the Divine Essence above all.

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Posted by Rhys Laverty

Rhys Laverty is a Graduate Diploma student with Union School of Theology. He podcasts about film and TV on For Now We See, and tweets @IfADoubleDecker. He lives in Chessington, UK with his wife and daughter.

  • YeOldPilgrim

    Gold.

  • JL

    Golden

  • David Goetz

    I mean, this is definitely the sort of thing the internet exists for.