The first person of God is the Father. Jesus Christ is the second person of God. He came to earth from heaven to save us, all humans, from the eternal death and pains of hell that are the fruits of our sin. The love between the Father and Jesus is so strong that it is not merely a force but is a person, the person of the Holy Spirit.* The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Most Blessed Trinity. This accounts for Jesus Christ. But who is Christ?
Creation of Woman and Marriage
To best answer, take a moment’s step back in salvation history and consider Adam before the Fall into sin. In Chapter two of Genesis in the Bible, we read that Adam was the lone human being in the Garden of Eden. God brought to Adam each of the animals and creatures He created from the earth. Adam named each animal and creature but was sad when he finished. There was not a creature of his own nature. He experienced what Pope John Paul II described in his Theology of the Body as The Original Solitude.
God decided that it was not good for the man to be alone. Casting the man into a deep sleep or Dormition, God took a rib from Adam’s side and formed a woman as man’s helper. On Adam’s waking, he saw the woman and recognized her as being “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.” Gen 2:23 The woman was named Eve for all of the living. Adam desired that the two become one. This as the basis for marriage where the two become one in the children who are their offspring. Explained another way, the love of the husband and wife with God’s love is so strong that it is not a force but a person, their child. Sound familiar?
Creation of the Church, Christ’s Bride
Consider that after the Fall, when Jesus Christ died on the Cross to save us from the perils of our sin, the Sabbath was to begin that evening. It would be proper to bury the dead before the Sabbath. With the permission of Pilate, the local governor, the legs of the crucified were to be broken to hasten death, and the bodies could then be removed and buried. The two criminals crucified with Jesus had their legs broken and died, but Jesus was deemed to have already died or been in a sort of Dormition. To be sure, a soldier thrust his lance through the side of Jesus and out came water and blood from His heart.
The water symbolizes the waters of Baptism, and the blood symbolizes the Eucharist; the Church is created. Like Eve coming from Adam’s side, the Church comes from the side of the body of Jesus. Jesus wants the two to become one and seeks the Church as His bride.
The Marriage of Christ and His Church; The Two Become One
To become one, the Church must become one with Christ as His body with Jesus as the head.
For the Church to become one with Jesus Christ, we have the Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Reconciliation, and the Eucharist. Through these Sacraments, we are drawn into Christ as members of His body. We were each created intentionally by God with the intent to be one of the members of His body.
The word Christ is Greek for ‘the anointed” or “the anointed one.” Jesus was the anointed one from the beginning as He fulfilled the Tri-Fold Missions of Priest, Prophet, and King. As Priest, His whole life and being was an oblation in obedience to the Father’s Will. As Prophet He proclaimed the Kingdom of God. As King He provides all we need for eternal life with the Blessed Trinity.
Each of us is called to share in this Tri-Fold Mission of Christ. We were created for it. We too become the anointed with Christ at our Baptism. We share in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and are anointed with oil then as Jesus was anointed with oil on death. We each then were incorporated into the Church as members of the Body of Christ with Jesus as our head.
Created by God with the intent to share in the Body of Christ, one can say we are destined to be ‘another Christ’ doing the Will of the Father.
Christ then is us with Jesus as our head.
Those in the womb, following the path of Jesus, are clearly both destined to be a member of the Body of Christ and are literally preborn. But those who have been born are no longer in the womb. And even accounting for Baptism, we are already incorporated into the Body of Christ, right? Then we are not the Preborn Christ. Or are we?
St. Thomas Aquinas defined a womb as a place where that which is perfected without addition.** In the womb of a woman, the person is complete at conception – body, mind, and spirit. That person develops in the womb without humanity being added, but rather it grows per the DNA of that person. The body becomes perfected along with the mind and spirit for a baby ready to be born.
Similarly, Thomas Aquinas argues, the family becomes a sort of spiritual womb for the child within which the child is to be perfected for adulthood.***
St. Francis of Assisi takes this concept even further when he describes eternal death as birth into eternal life. St. Francis is describing our mortal lives as within a womb where we are perfected for eternal life. As such, we can indeed call us all the Body of Christ until Judgment Day when eternal life begins for those who are judged to do so.
The Preborn Christ truly is all of us with Jesus as our head.
May the peace of Jesus in the womb of Mary be with you.
*Theology of the Body as expressed by Rev. Michael McNamara of Servants of Christ Ministries, Scituate, MA
** St Thomas Aquinas, Question 27, Article 1, Reply to Objection 4 Summa Theologica
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