Central to the dogma of the Trinity is who Jesus Christ is. Those who believe in the Trinity believe that Jesus Christ is God, the second person of the Trinity who assumed a human nature and walked among us.
Those who do not accept the Trinity as truth will often point to passages in Scripture where Jesus does not consider himself to be equal to the Father. For example, in John 14:28, Jesus says “You heard me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.” In Matthew 24:36 Jesus says “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
And in John 20:17 we read that Jesus told Mary Magdalene “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
In these passages Jesus indicates the Father is greater than he is, that the Father knows things that he does not, and that the Father is his God. As Catholics who profess a belief that Jesus is God, how do we resolve these passages?
Philippians 2:5-7 tells us that “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
St. Paul in that passage writes about the human nature Christ assumed. The Catechism gives us this insight:
CCC472 This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man”, and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience. This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”.
The passage cited by the catechism is Luke 2:52 where we are told that after Jesus is found in the temple at age twelve that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”
Due to the human nature Christ assumed, for the 33 years he was on earth, he accepted the limitations of our nature, constrained by time and space. He truly became one of us and progressed through the stages of life, learning as we would learn.
So would we believe that even now, Christ does not know the day and hour of his return? I would say that as Christ no longer experiences the limitations of time and space, he does indeed know. He is fully God, equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit in all things.