The Learning of the Child Jesus
How did the apprehension of human knowledge take place [in Christ] concerning the simplest things, such as walking, being literate, working with carpentry?
Letter from Marcelo on August 13, 2003
Marcelo on Florianópolis, SC
Dear professor Orlando,
I am glad to write to you again. I come to ask for your help, perhaps abusing the kindness that you always show me, in order to analyze a question of a Christological character. Jesus, perfectly man and perfectly God, was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, was born in Bethlehem and lived among men. Being God, how did the apprehension of human knowledge occur? What about the simplest things, such as walking, being literate, working with carpentry, among other similar activities? Certainly He never lacked the knowledge of His divine nature. How does this fact (the knowledge of being God Himself) change the human faculties of knowing and learning as a baby, child and adolescent?
I renew my cordial greeting, In Christ,
Response from Orlando Fedeli
Dear Marcelo, salve Maria!
It is with pleasure that I answer your question.
In Our Lord Jesus Christ, there are two natures in one person.
In Christ there is:
the divine nature of the Only Begotten Son of God, the Word of God.
human nature, conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the ever virgin Mary.
These two natures are united in one person, that of the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
It is what theology calls hypostatic union, union in one person.
Do you remember that Christ prayed in the Garden of Olives: "if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my [human] will, but thine [divine] be done."
So, too, Christ knew everything with His divine Intelligence. But he learned from His human intelligence. Therefore, Our Lady taught the Word of God to speak as a man.
That's why, at the age of twelve, in the Temple of Jerusalem, he asked to the doctors questions, as a man, and taught them, as God.
That's why Our Lord said that not even the Son of Man — [He as a man, a descendant of Adam] — knew when the end of the world would be. It is clear that He, as God, knew that day of the end of the world, but did not know it as a man.
I hope I have clarified the problem you posed. If you want more explanations, write to me and I will gladly assist you.
in Corde Jesu, semper,
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Trivia: The book in the painting of Sandro Botticelli is the Book of Hours, an abbreviated book from Divine Office.