Skip to comments.St. Gregory Nazianzen on the Incarnation
Posted on 11/27/2005 7:17:09 PM PST by sionnsar
As we are now in the Advent season, I thought this quote from St. Gregory Nazianzen would be most fitting; it is from his Oration 38:
Again the darkness is past; again Light is made; again Egypt is punished with darkness; again Israel is enlightened by a pillar. The people that sat in the darkness of ignorance, let it see the Great Light of full knowledge. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new. The letter gives way, the Spirit comes to the front. The shadows flee away, the Truth comes in upon them. Melchisedec is concluded. He that was without Mother becomes without Father (without Mother of His former state, without Father of His second). The laws of nature are upset; the world above must be filled. Christ commands it, let us not set ourselves against Him. O clap your hands together all ye people, because unto us a Child is born, and a Son given unto us, Whose Government is upon His shoulder (for with the Cross it is raised up), and His Name is called The Angel of the Great Counsel of the Father. Let John cry, Prepare ye the way of the Lord: I too will cry the power of this Day. He Who is not carnal is Incarnate; the Son of God becomes the Son of Man, Jesus Christ the Same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. Let the Jews be offended, let the Greeks deride; let heretics talk till their tongues ache. Then shall they believe, when they see Him ascending up into heaven; and if not then, yet when they see Him coming out of heaven and sitting as Judge...In some respects this is indeed fitting for this Advent--because it seems that the world is attempting to secularize Christmas this year as never before. May we truly keep our observance of this Advent and Christmas "after a godly sort" and "not after the way of the world."
This is our present Festival; it is this which we are celebrating to-day, the Coming of God to Man, that we might go forth, or rather (for this is the more proper expression) that we might go back to God--that putting off the old man, we might put on the New; and that as we died in Adam, so we might live in Christ, being born with Christ and crucified with Him and buried with Him and rising with Him. For I must undergo the beautiful conversion, and as the painful succeeded the more blissful, so must the more blissful come out of the painful. For where sin abounded Grace did much more abound; and if a taste condemned us, how much more doth the Passion of Christ justify us? Therefore let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own but as belonging to Him Who is ours, or rather as our Master's; not as of weakness, but as of healing; not as of creation, but of re-creation.
more great church father stuff...
The Advent season is surely a time when,even if we are preoccupied with shopping and getting together with friends, we should take time to contemplate exactly what will happen on Christmas Day and what it means. +Gregory Nazianzen the Elder reminds us of how to properly celebrate the Incarnation the central event of human history.
+Symeon the New Theologian explains the purpose this way:
"The purpose of the incarnate economy of God the Word, which is proclaimed by all the divine scriptures and which we read but do not understand, is surely summed up by saying that He has shared in what was ours to let us share in what was His. The Son of God became the Son of Man in order to make us men the sons of God. By grace He lifts up our race to what He is by nature. He gives birth to us from on high in the Holy Spirit, and then straightway leads us into the kingdom of heaven; or rather, He gives us the grace to have this kingdom within us. We therefore have more than just the hope of entering here; we really possess it as we cry out: 'Our life is hidden with Christ in God'."
Perhaps you can answer a rather perverse question that occurred to me today.
I was thinking about Nungesser and Cole, the French aviators who tried to cross the Atlantic before Lindbergh. They vanished in the North Atlantic. I wondered if they carried a revolver in event of failure. Better a bullet to the head than waiting to die of exposure in the icy waters. But then I wondered, isn't that euthanasia ? Is it ?
The Fulness of the Godhead Came in the Fulness of Time
from a sermon by Bernard of Clairvaux,12th century
The kindness and humanity of God our Savior appeared. Thanks be to God, through whom our consolation overflows in this pilgrimage, in this exile, in this distress.
Before his humanity appeared , his kindness lay concealed. The latter indeed existed first, because the mercy of the Lord is from eternity. But how could men know it was so great? It was promised indeed, but not yet experienced: hence many did not believe in it. The Lord indeed spoke in fragmentary and varied fashion through the prophets saying I know the thoughts that I think towards you, thoughts of peace and not of affliction.
But what reply did man make, man who felt the affliction, and knew nothing of peace? How long will you keep saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace? Therefore, the angels of peace were weeping bitterly saying Lord, who has believed our report? But now let men believe at least their own sight, because the testimonies of God are become exceedingly credible. He has set his tabernacle in the sun, so that it cannot escape even an eye that is troubled.
Behold, peace no longer promised, but conferred; no longer delayed, but given; no longer predicted, but bestowed, Behold, God the Father has sent down to earth as it were a bag filled with his mercy; a bag to be rent open in the passion so that our ransom which it concealed might be poured out; a small bag indeed, but full. It is indeed a small child who is given to us, but in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead.
After the fulness of time had come, there came too the fulness of the Godhead. He came in the flesh, so that at least he might make himself manifest to our earthly minds, so that when this humanity of his appeared, his kindness might also be acknowledged. Where the humanity of God appears, his kindness can no longer be hidden. In what way, indeed, could he have better commended his kindness than by assuming my flesh? My flesh, that is, not Adams, as it was before the fall.
What greater proof could he have given of his mercy than by taking upon himself that which needed mercy? Where is there such fulness of loving-kindness as in the fact that the Word of God became perishable like the grass for our sakes? Lord, what is man, that you make much of him or pay him any heed?
Let man infer from this how much God cares for him. Let him know from this what God thinks of him, what he feels about him. Man, do not ask about your own sufferings; but about what he suffered. Learn from what he was made for you, how much he makes of you, so that his kindness may show itself to you from his humanity.
The lesser he has made himself in his humanity, the greater has he shown himself in kindness. The more he humbles himself on my account, the more powerfully he engages my love. The kindness and humanity of God our Savior appeared says the Apostle. The humanity of God shows the greatness of his kindness, and he who added humanity to the name of God gave great proof of this kindness.
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