The mystery of the Incarnation
demands our joy.
Let us be glad in the Lord,
dearly-beloved, and rejoice with spiritual joy that there
has dawned for us the day of every-new redemption, of
ancient preparation, of eternal bliss. For as the year rolls
round, there recurs for us the commemoration of our
salvation, which promised from the beginning, accomplished
in the fullness of time will endure for ever; on which we
are bound with hearts up-lifted to adore the divine mystery:
so that what is the effect of God's great gift may be
celebrated by the Church's great rejoicing.
For God the
almighty and merciful, Whose nature is goodness, Whose will
is power, Whose work is mercy: as soon as the devil's
malignity killed us by the poison of his hatred, foretold at
the very beginning of the world the remedy His piety had
prepared for the restoration of us mortals: proclaiming to
the serpent that the Seed of the woman should come to crush
the lifting of his baneful head by its power, signifying no
doubt that Christ would come in the flesh, God and man, Who
born of a Virgin should by His incorrupt birth condemn the
despoiler of the human stock.
Thus in the whole and perfect
nature of true man was true God born, complete in what was
His own, complete in what was ours. And "ours" we call what
the Creator formed in us from the beginning and what He
undertook to repair. For what the deceiver brought in and
the deceived admitted has no trace in the Savior. Nor
because He partook of man's weaknesses, did He therefore
share our faults.
He took the form of a slave without stain
of sin, increasing the human and not diminishing the Divine:
because the "emptying of Himself" whereby the Invisible made
Himself visible and Creator and Lord of all things as He
was, wished to be mortal.
Therefore, when the time came,
dearly beloved, which had been fore-ordained for men's
redemption, the Son of God enters these lower parts of the
world, descending from His heavenly throne and yet not
quitting His Father's glory, begotten in a new order, by a
new nativity. In a new order, because being invisible in His
own nature He became visible in ours, and He whom nothing
could contain, was content to be contained: abiding before
all time He began to be in time: the Lord of all things, He
obscured His immeasurable majesty and took on Him the form
of a servant: being God, that cannot suffer, He did not
disdain to be man that can, and immortal as He is, to
subject Himself to the laws of death.
And by a new nativity
He was begotten, conceived by a Virgin, born of a Virgin,
without paternal desire, without injury to the mother's
chastity: because such a birth as knew no taint of human
flesh, became One who was to be the Savior of men, while it
possessed in itself the nature of human substance. For when
God was born in the flesh, God Himself was the Father, as
the archangel witnessed to the Blessed Virgin Mary: "because
the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the
most High shall overshadow thee: and therefore, that which
shall be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God."
The origin is different but the nature like: not with man
but by the power of God was it brought about: for a Virgin
conceived, a Virgin bare, and a Virgin she
Consider here not the condition of
her that bare but the will of Him that was born; for He was
born Man as He willed and was able. If you inquire into the
truth of His nature, you must acknowledge the matter to be
human; if you search for the mode of His birth, you must
confess the power to be of God.
For the Lord Jesus Christ
came to do away with not to endure our pollutions: not to
succumb to our faults but to heal them. He came that He
might cure every weakness of our corruptness and all the
sores of our defiled souls: for which reason it behaved Him
to be born by a new order, who brought to men's bodies the
new gift of unsullied purity. For the incorrupt nature of
Him that was born had to guard the primal virginity of
Mother, and the infused power of
the Divine Spirit had to preserve in spotlessness and
holiness that sanctuary which He had chosen for Himself:
that Spirit (I say) who had determined to raise the fallen,
to restore the broken, and by overcoming the allurements of
the flesh to bestow on us in abundant measure the power of
chastity; in order that the virginity which in others cannot
be retained in child-bearing, might be attained by them at
their second birth.
Justice required that Satan be
vanquished by God made man. And, dearly beloved, this very
fact that Christ chose to be born of a Virgin does it not
appear to be part of the deepest design? For though the true
mercy of God had infinitely many schemes to hand for the
restoration of mankind, it chose that particular design
which put in force for the destroying of the devil's work,
not the efficacy of might but the dictates of justice.
the pride of the ancient foe not undeservedly made good its
despotic rights over all men, and tyrannised over those who
had been of their own accord lured away from God's commands
to be the slaves of his will.
And to this end, without male
seed Christ was conceived of a Virgin, who was conceived by
the Holy Spirit. And whereas in all mothers conception does
not take place without stain of sin, this one received
purification from the Source of her conception. Her
unsullied virginity knew no lust when it ministered the
substance. The Lord took from His mother our nature, not our
Then, therefore, the merciful and
almighty Savior so arranged the commencement of His human
course as to hide the power of His Godhead, the crafty foe
was taken off his guard and he thought that the nativity of
the Child, Who was born for the salvation of mankind, was as
much subject to himself as all others are to their birth.
For he saw Him crying and weeping, he saw Him wrapped in
swaddling clothes, subjected to circumcision, offering the
sacrifice which the law required. Meanwhile, he inflicted
insults, poured upon Him all the force of his fury. The
unscrupulous thief persisted in assaulting Him, and went
beyond the bond, and required the punishment of iniquity
from Him in Whom he found no fault.
The strong one is bound
by his own chains, and every device of the evil one recoils
in his own head. When the prince of the world is bound, all
that he held in captivity is released. Our nature cleansed
from its old contagion regains its honorable estate, death
is destroyed by death, nativity is restored by nativity:
since at the one and the same time redemption does away with
slavery, regeneration changes our origin, and faith
justifies the sinner.
Having therefore so confident a
hope, dearly beloved, abide firm in the Faith in which you
are built: lest that same temper whose tyranny over you
Christ has already destroyed, win you back again with any of
his wiles, and mar even the joys of the present festival by
his deceitful art. Such men's hearts are wrapped in total
darkness, and have no growing perception of the true Light;
for they are still drawn away by the foolish errors, because
they cannot lift the eyes of their mind above that which
their carnal sight beholds.
Let not Christian souls
entertain any such wicked superstition and portentous lie.
That power then, that wisdom, that majesty is to be adored
which created the universe out of nothing, and framed by His
almighty methods the substance of the earth and sky into
what forms and dimensions He willed.
Sun, moon, and stars
may be most useful to us, most fair to look upon; but only
if we render thanks to their Maker for them and worship God
who made them, not the creation which does Him service. Then
praise God, dearly beloved, in all His works and judgments.
Cherish an undoubting belief in the Virgin's pure
conception. Honor the sacred and Divine Mystery of man's
restoration with holy and sincere service. Embrace Christ
born in our flesh, that you may deserve to see Him also as
the God of glory reigning in His majesty, who with the
Father and the Holy Spirit remains in the unity of the
Godhead for ever and ever.