The Wonder of the Incarnation

  Our desires will be completely fulfilled in the vision of the Word

from a Sermon by St Augustine, 5th century

What man knows all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in Christ and concealed in the poverty of his flesh?  

Though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich.  When he made mortality his own and made away with death, he appeared in poverty; but he promised riches, riches that were only deferred - he did not lose riches that were taken away from him.

How great is the abundance of his goodness which he hides for those who fear him, which he perfects for those who hope in him!  Our knowledge is partial until what is perfect comes.  To make us fit to receive this perfection, he who is equal to the Father in the form of God and made like to us in the form of a slave, transforms us to the likeness of God.  The only Son of God, made son of man, makes many sons of men sons of God.  The slaves, sustained by the visible form of the slave, he frees and makes children so that they may see the form of God.

We are God's children; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him he as he is.  What are those treasures of wisdom and knowledge, what are those divine riches, except what is sufficient for us?  What is that abundance of goodness, except what fills us?  Show us the Father, then, and it is sufficient for us.

 In one of the psalms someone says to him from among us or within us or for us: I shall be filled when your glory is manifested'.  He and the Father are one: whoever sees him sees the Father also.  So then, he the Lord of hosts, he is the king of glory.  He will bring us back, he will show us his face; and we shall be saved, we shall be filled, he will be sufficient for us.

Until this happens, until he shows us what is sufficient for us, until we drink him as the fountain of life and are filled, - until then we are exiles from him and walk by faith, until then we hunger and thirst for justice, and long with a passion beyond words for the beauty of the form of God; - until then, let us celebrate his birth in the form of a slave with humble devotion. 

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(c) 1998 Don Schwager