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"Each One of Us is an Icon of the Beginning"

'The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed' (Mt 13: 31)327.

Scripture gives us the word-image of a seed.  Therefore, following the methodology recommended, as it were, by St. Thomas Aquinas, which is that our understanding of what is natural is the basis of our understanding of what is supernatural, one can see how the 'growth' of a seed expresses a principle inherent in the Incarnation: the principle of transformation through incorporation.

The seed grows through the fact that water and warmth activate its inherent power to incorporate into itself what it naturally recognises are the right external ingredients for its growth (cf. Jn 13: 1).  The process of growth involves the responsive opening of the body of the seed in order to make possible the integration into it of what were the 'external elements' to it.  Thus there is an opening of the body of the seed and a radical change for the 'external elements.'  For what were once 'dead' ingredients now become incorporated into the life of the plant328.  The growth of the seed, however, is at one and the same time the death of the seed (cf. Jn 12: 24).  The seed is transformed in the course of its growth.  But the transformation (cf. Mt. 17: 1-2) of the seed is into what it is - an apple seed becomes an apple tree.  This is also a radical change: as radical as death to life; but it does not otherwise involve a radical change in what it is.  For although an apple seed dies to become an apple tree - it dies in order to become what it is329: an apple tree and not a pear tree.  Therefore it is the seed that determines, as it were, what will become of the ingredients in the ground.

Furthermore, while the seed may itself be perfect it can be infected to the point of death by the imperfections which are in the soil around it.  These imperfections are a suffering and even a disfigurement of the growing plant, but they do not make it what it is not, so much as frustrate its natural desire to be what it is330.  But, as is well known, what is not accepted is rejected (cf. Mt. 25: 41-46).  Therefore whatever does not change in the course of being taken up into the growing plant cannot, ultimately, be taken into it (cf. Mt. 22: 11-14).  Finally, the seed sows its own nature331 and reproduces itself abundantly (cf. Mt. 13: 31-32 and Lk 6: 43-45).

It is now possible to see that there is an application, within the documents of the Second Vatican Council and of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, of the idea that the works of God can be understood on the basis that each act of God is, as it were, after the nature of the incarnation.  The conclusion to which this tends is that the history of salvation is, in fact, the history of God's transforming incorporation of us into Christ.  It could even be said that the history of salvation is the history of the Incarnation of Christ.

327 All Scriptural references are from The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition.    Back
328 Cf. Lumen Gentium, art 8, page 358 of VCII.  It says: 'The Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal.'    Back
329 Cf. FC, art 17, page 32: 'family, become what you are.'    Back
330 Cf. Lumen Gentium, art 8, page 358 of VCII.    Back
331 Ibid. 'Christ, "holy, innocent and undefiled" (Heb. 7: 26) knew nothing of sin (2 Cor. 5: 21), but came only to expiate the sins of the people (cf. Heb. 2: 17).'    Back

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