Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Joy to the World, the Lord IS Come

Consider the following thoughts from Leo the Great's "Second Sermon on the Feast of the Nativity." Here he draws that all-important connection which is so frequently lost in the diluted religious remembrances which limp weakly behind our Christmas festivities, that the nativity is a salvific moment. It is meaningless for us without the passion it alludes to. That the Son of God should empty himself of his divine station and become one of us has value only because we anticipate the climax of the narrative when he returns to his rightful place at the right hand of the throne of God, becoming the path by which we might follow to the same end.

Let us be glad in the LORD, dearly-beloved, and rejoice with spiritual joy that there has dawned for us the day of ever-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 forever; 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 rejoicings. For GOD the almighty and merciful, Whose nature as 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 uncorrupt birth condemn the despoiler of the human stock.

This crucial meaning of the Incarnation is lost in token sermons and fashionable invocations of "advent," but remains as an artifact in our rich tradition of hymns, however thoughtlessly they are intermingled with Jingle Bells.

"Fear not then," said the Angel, "Let nothing you affright, this day is born a Savior of a pure Virgin bright, to free all those who trust in Him from Satan's power and might."

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

So remember that what happened at the birth of Jesus was far more radical than our caroling and nativity scenes and wreaths would suggest. That little baby--born to ignoble people in a stable, lauded by filthy shepherds, visited by foreign pagans, and pursued by murderous politicians from birth--came to upset the world order so that the sick might be well, the poor might be rich, the meek might inherit the earth and sinners the kingdom of heaven.

No comments:

Post a Comment