God’s Revelation

Cathal Barry explores the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Humanity comes to know God with certainty by natural reason, on the basis of his works. However, there is another order of knowledge, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which man cannot possibly arrive at by his own powers: the order of divine Revelation.

The Catechism notes that through an utterly free decision, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. ìThis he does by revealing the mystery, his plan of loving goodness, formed from all eternity in Christ, for the benefit of all men,î the Catechism says. ìGod has fully revealed this plan by sending us his beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit,î it adds.

Introducing Divine Revelation, the Catechism cites Dei Verbum, the Churchís definitive document on the subject, which states:

Goodness and wisdom

ìIn His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (see Eph. 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (see Eph. 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4).î

Through this revelation, therefore, the Church teaches that ìthe invisible God out of his love speaks to men as friends and lives among them, so that he may invite and take them into fellowship with himselfî.


God, the Catechism continues, ìwants to communicate his own divine life to the men he freely created, in order to adopt them as his sons in his only-begotten Sonî. ìBy revealing himself God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity,î it says.

According to Dei Verbum, the divine plan of Revelation is realised ìby deeds and words which are intrinsically bound up with each otherî and shed light on each another. The Catechism notes it involves a specific ìdivine pedagogyî: God communicates himself to man gradually. ìHe prepares him to welcome by stages the supernatural Revelation that is to culminate in the person and mission of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ,î it says.

Likewise, St Irenaeus of Lyons repeatedly speaks of this divine pedagogy using the image of God and man becoming accustomed to one another: The Word of God dwelt in man and became the Son of man in order to accustom man to perceive God and to accustom God to dwell in man, according to the Fatherís pleasure.

This is the beginning of how God makes himself known.