As we approach the Church’s celebration of God the Son taking on flesh at Christmas, I have supplied some wisdom from the forefathers of the faith on this wondrous event.
“The Teacher of children became Himself a child among children, that He might instruct the unwise. The Bread of heaven came down to earth to feed the hungry.” (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures)
“What he was He continued to be; what He was not He took to Himself.” (Gregory of Nazianzus, Theological Orations)
“Nor did he lose what he was, but he began to be what He was not.” (Augustine, Homily on John)
“According to our nature, then, He offered Himself that He might do a work beyond our nature.” (Ambrose, The Incarnation of Our Lord)
This next selection from John of Damascus is quite beautiful, and deserves to be read slowly and “digested.”
“The Son of God became man in order that He might again grace man as He had when He made him. For He had made him to His own image, understanding and free, and to His own likeness, that is to say, as perfect in virtues as it was possible for human nature to be, for these virtues are, as it were characteristics of the divine nature–freedom from care and annoyance, integrity, goodness, wisdom, justice, freedom from all vice. Thus, He put man in communion with Himself. But, since by transgressing the commandment we obscured and canceled out the characteristics of the divine image, we were given over to evil and stripped of the divine communion.
But, since He had shared with us what was better and we had not kept it, He now takes His share of what is worse, of our nature I mean to say, that through Himself and in Himself He may restore what was to His image and what was to His likeness.”—(John of Damascus, Orthodox Faith 4.4)
And finally, this profound poem from Anselm:
“As death entered through one man’s disobedience,
So life is restored through one man’s obedience;
As sin came through the temptation of a woman,
So salvation came through one born of a woman;
As the enemy conquered humanity by tasting of a tree,
So Christ conquered the enemy by bearing suffering on a tree.”
(Anselm, Why did God Become Man? (Cur Deus Homo).
Merry Christmas, and “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (II Corinthians 9:15).