How is it just that Jesus' obedience be more valuable than ours? CCC 474-475

Catechism paragraphs 474-475 say,

474 By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal.108 What he admitted to not knowing in this area, he elsewhere declared himself not sent to reveal.109

475 Similarly, at the sixth ecumenical council, Constantinople III in 681, the Church confessed that Christ possesses two wills and two natural operations, divine and human. They are not opposed to each other, but cooperate in such a way that the Word made flesh willed humanly in obedience to his Father all that he had decided divinely with the Father and the Holy Spirit for our salvation.110 Christ’s human will “does not resist or oppose but rather submits to his divine and almighty will.”1

I have underlined portions that undermine my understanding of the value of Jesus’ obedience: It appears to me that obedience in the face of uncertainty is more valuable, more dramatic, because more painful, than obedience in the face of certainty, wherein only physical pain is risked. Jesus even seems to confirm this in John 20:29, "Jesus said to [Thomas], “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” "

Thus, it appears the obedient suffering of the agnostic is worse, hence more valuable, than the same suffering from the Son of God. (It also appears harder for a Father to justify.)

What are your thoughts on this point? Doesn’t uncertainty, not knowing that God exists (and apparently being unable to know apart from private revelation), make obedience more valuable? I wonder if this is part of what St. Paul says about “filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ”, but here Christian revelation seems incoherent, because at the same time it is affirmed that nothing was lacking.

Perhaps the resolution comes in Genesis 4:4-7:

The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and dejected. Then the LORD said to Cain: Why are you angry? Why are you dejected? If you act rightly, you will be accepted;

That is to say, there’s no competition here.

ethereality 31 #1
How is it just that Jesus’ obedience be more valuable than ours? CCC 474-475
Doesn’t uncertainty, not knowing that God exists (and apparently being unable to know apart from private revelation), make obedience more valuable? I wonder if this is part of what St. Paul says about “filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ”, but here Christian revelation seems incoherent, because at the same time it is affirmed that nothing was lacking.

From Catechism paragraphs 474-475 you conclude that “Thus, it appears the obedient suffering of the agnostic is worse, hence more valuable, than the same suffering from the Son of God.”

With the fullness of understanding, Christ, as God, chose to rescue humanity from Original Sin by His suffering, crucifixion and death, and thus what the suffering, crucifixion and death of Jesus accomplished is our REDEMPTION. We have to work out our SALVATION in fear and trembling.

So, St Paul: “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His Body which is the Church.” (Col. 1:24). What is lacking in Christ’s suffering is precisely what only we can do – take up our cross and suffer, repent and ask forgiveness, following the dictates of our conscience. We see here that Christ’s Catholic Church (the Bride of Christ) is His Mystical Body through whom all salvation comes.

“But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.” (1Cor 9:27). And again: “Wherefore he who thinks that he stands, let him take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor 10:12). Yet again, “And we exhort you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (2 Cor 6:1).

“All, of us have a scrutiny to undergo before Christ’s judgment-seat, for each to reap what his mortal life has earned, good or ill, according to his deeds.” (2 Cor 5:10).

What St Paul meant is that what is lacking is our co-operation. That is precisely why St Paul teaches: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12). We don’t achieve salvation in one fell swoop by accepting Christ as our personal saviour as some are misled to feel. St Paul knows very well what he is teaching.

As Catholics we need to keep the Commandments and the precepts of the Church, participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and when we sin mortally we must confess.

That’s an interesting distinction. I wonder if that distinction is theology promulgated by the bishops. Together with your clarification of St. Saul,* it would indicate that my experiences and patient suffering are valuable and pleasing to God, even necessary for my own formation, as you suggest.

*Why not start calling him by his Jewish name for non-Roman matters, reserving his Roman name for Roman matters?

[quote=ethereality]I have underlined portions that undermine my understanding of the value of Jesus’ obedience: It appears to me that obedience in the face of uncertainty is more valuable, more dramatic, because more painful, than obedience in the face of certainty, wherein only physical pain is risked. Jesus even seems to confirm this in John 20:29, "Jesus said to [Thomas], “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” "

Thus, it appears the obedient suffering of the agnostic is worse, hence more valuable, than the same suffering from the Son of God. (It also appears harder for a Father to justify.)

[/quote]

You bring up some interesting points.

Your difficulty is based on the uncertainty of believers in their obedience to the ordained Church of Christ, when compared to that of Jesus, who in His Divinity had absolute certainty.

But, you should also consider that believers actually DO have certainty. You mention agnostics. Agnostics are uncertain in their belief.

Human reason will only take us so far. We need Divine Faith from God as well in order to have that certainty one lacks as an agnostic.

That is ONE aspect of your difficulty.

The other, is that Jesus, the Son of God, although had certitude about the Will of God, was obedient to sinful man, a creature of His own making! This type of obedience is far above and beyond anything we humans are even capable. Nor can we fully appreciate the mystery of His obedience, but it is revealed in His Love and Humility.

You must mull this over, as well as pray for God to give you Faith, if by your bare reasoning, you have come this far. But you will need to have Love and Humility in praying.

St Paul is saying we are to do our part in suffering as well. Jesus never said we don’t have to suffer on our part or that our suffering is meaningless or has no value .

Obedience of the believer is only made meritorious by uncertainty because he exercises the virtue of faith. Insofar as the agnostic’s uncertainty is due to a *lack *of faith, it also lacks the merit factor.

Christ, being omniscient, did not have to exercise faith, it is true; but faith is not the only thing that makes actions meritorious. There is also charity, for example, which Christ possessed in a greater degree than any of us will ever dream of achieving. There is also the fact of his infinite humility, being divine and yet obeying not only God but men. All his actions as man, for this reason, were infinitely meritorious.

If you ever wake up one morning with infinite power, and you respond with infinite obedience and goodness, your obedience will be worth more than it is now.

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