Advent – A Franciscan Perspective (continued again)

The Mystery of the Incarnation as Revealed to Adam Before the Fall (continued)

To this list of early Church writers (St. Jerome, St. Augustine, Tertullian) maintaining that Adam was shown by God the mystery of the Incarnation before the fall we add the two spiritual giants and Doctors of the Church of the 13th century: St. Thomas Aquinas who confirms it twice in his Summa Theologica and St. Bonaventure who mentions it in his Commentary on the Sentences (In Sent. IIId.1, art. 2, q.2).

Two other stellar contributers to the discussion, in an implicit way, are St. John of the Cross and Bl. Pope John Paul II.

St. John of the Cross – the Romances

St. John of the Cross gives us an affirmation of this in his usual poetic and mystical style. In his poetic works he wrote a series of “Romances” describing the inner life of the Trinity, creation and the Incarnation. Here are some of the pertinent verses:

“My Son, I wish to give you
a bride who will love you.
Because of you she will deserve
to share our company,

and eat at our table,
the same bread I eat,
that she may know the good
I have in such a Son;
and rejoice with me
in your grace and fullness.”

“I am very grateful,”
the Son answered;
“I will show my brightness
to the bride you give me,

so that by it she may see
how great my Father is,
and how I have received
my being from your being.

I will hold her in my arms
and she will burn with your love,
and with eternal delight
she will exalt your goodness.”

In Romance 7 on the Incarnation he continues:

“Now you see, Son, that your bride
was made in your image,
and so far as she is like you
she will suit you well;

yet she is different, in her flesh,
which your simple being does not have.
In perfect love
this law holds:
that the lover become
like the one he loves;
for the greater their likeness
the greater their delight.

Surely your bride’s delight
would greatly increase
were she to see you like her,
in her own flesh.”

“My will is yours,”
the Son replied…

In this beautiful series of poems we have a mystical, poetic expression of a Doctor of the Church on the inner life of the Trinity, the creation of the universe as willed by the Father to be the Bride of the Son (so all things exist for Christ prior to any consideration of sin) and so that He can share with creation the joy that He finds in His Only-Begotten, the Incarnation as the coming of the Bridegroom who ever wishes to become “like the one He loves” and to consummate the mystical espousals with His Bride. Obviously St. John does not neglect the Redemption nor downplay it, put simply squares it away in the framework of the immutable divine decree to so love the Son as to create the world (and more specifically the Church) as His Bride and to so love the world as to send His Only-Begotten Son so as to delight the beautiful Bride who, after the fall, is stained with sin and must be sanctified by the Son delivering Himself up for her, “cleansing her in the bath of water by means of the word; in order that He might present to Himself the Church in all her glory, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:26-27).

This dogmatic poetry of St. John of the Cross, while having unique nuances of its own, clearly syncs up with the Franciscan school. From this perspective the season of Advent in its fullest sense is a preparation of the Bride (the Church, and each soul) for the coming of the Divine Bridegroom. From the first moment of creation everything is directed towards Christ the King who will be born of a Virgin at Bethlehem; from the first matrimony of Adam and Eve every marriage is to be a reflection of “the great mystery” of the nuptials of Christ with His Bride the Church (Eph 5:21ff).

St. Pope John Paul II – the Theology of the Body

Ephesians 5:32 is interpreted as part of God’s eternal plan: the love and union of husband and wife are to reflect the love and union of Christ and the Church, and this before the fall…

To be continued…