Would the Eternal Word have become incarnate if Adam had never sinned? Some religious in the Middle-Ages answered in the negative to this. However, the Franciscans answered in the positive. The latter view would become known as the Absolute Primacy of Christ. I hold to this view, namely, that the Second Person of the Trinity would have indeed become Jesus Christ even if Adam and Eve had never sinned. However, even for those who hold to the Absolute Primacy of Christ (like the Franciscans and me) we clearly assert that the propitiation for our sins was a major reason for the Incarnation. Of course, the Incarnation is when God the Son became a zygote at the Annunciation and was later born a baby of Mary Immaculate at that first Christmas 2021 years ago.
This blog post will look specifically at why propitiation for our sins was most fitting to be done by the God-man. In short, as you see in the following words from the late Fr. Gabriel OCD (echoing St. Thomas Aquinas) that God could have forgiven all of man’s sins by simply “willing” it as our infinitely powerful God. Why then did He become a man and suffer so horribly for us? To this, Fr. Gabriel the Carmelite simply writes that “it was becoming to His holiness and infinite justice to exact an adequate satisfaction; man was absolutely incapable of providing this.”
Yes only an infinite blood could make atonement for an infinite offense against God. However, man’s blood is not infinite and the eternal God obviously had no physical body before the Annunciation. Thus, the most perfect solution would be for blood to be shed of a God-man whose sacrifice would be not only boundless and blameless (as God) but also physical (as only a man can shed blood.) Thus, God became man to die for us, as none of us could have ever made up for our own sins. This is why every Christmas Octave must be seen in the shadow of the cross and the light of the resurrection (even for those of us who hold to the Absolute Primacy of Christ, that Christ would have become incarnate even if we had never sinned.)
Fr. Gabriel writes in the Carmelite spirituality book Divine Intimacy the best explanation I have read in so few words as to why God became a man:
The sin of our first parents had destroyed God’s original plan for our elevation to a supernatural state; we had forfeited our claim, and we could never atone for the sin. God could have pardoned all, but it was becoming to His holiness and infinite justice to exact an adequate satisfaction; man was absolutely incapable of providing this. Then, the most sublime work of God’s mercy was accomplished: One Person of the Blessed Trinity, the second, came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Behold the Word, God’s only-begotten Son, “who for us men and our salvation, descended from heaven and become incarnate. (Credo.)—Divine Intimacy 22 Dec