The time before God becoming man is the period in which He gradually comes closer to mankind, fostering the fullness of life, as well as healing from sin and its effects.
The help of God has never been absent from human history, even from the time of humanity’s Fall. But it is true that Christ did not come immediately after the sin of Adam. We do know that when Christ did appear, it was in fact the right time, as Scripture assures us: “But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4).
As explained elsewhere the world was created for the sake of Christ, and all human history is focussed on his coming. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that "Christians of the first centuries said God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life, a communion brought about by the ‘convocation’ [gathering together] of men in Christ, and this ‘convocation’ is the Church”. The Catechism also explains that "This 'family of God' is gradually formed and takes shape during the stages of human history, in keeping with the Father's plan." and that "God permitted such painful upheavals as the angels' fall and man's sin only as occasions and means for displaying all the power of his arm and the whole measure of the love he wanted to give the world." (Catechism 759, 760). So Jesus comes "at the end of the ages" to complete God's plan and bring us the fullness of life through communion with the Blessed Trinity, but this also means redeeming us from the disaster of sin and death.
We cannot yet know all the mysteries of God's plan, but it seems that Jesus came at a time when human culture and politics had developed to an extent that the Church and the Gospel could begin to be taken to every part of the earth. The Catechism again says that the Church is "already present in figure [in the community of our first parents] at the beginning of the world, this Church was prepared in marvellous fashion in the history of the people of Israel and the old Covenant. Established in this last age of the world and made manifest in the outpouring of the Spirit, it will be brought to glorious completion at the end of time." (Catechism 759)
May / June 2018
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