Nativity Sermon Geregory Nazianzen

Sermon on the Nativity by S Gregory of Nazianzen

St. Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 38, "On The Theophany, or Birthday of Christ," Trans. Charles Gordon Brown and James Edward Swallow, from S. Cyril of Jerusalem, S. Gregory of Nanzianzen, Volume 7, Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds., The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series. (New York: The Christian Literature Company, 1894), pp. 345-351.

 

 

  Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, 

Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1894.

 

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INTRODUCTION TO THE ORATION ON THE THEOPHANY

THE Title of this Oration has given rise to a doubt whether it was

preached on Dec. 25, 380, or on Jan. 6, 381. The word Theophania is well

known as a name for the Epiphany; which, however, according to Schaff,

was originally a celebration both of the Nativity and the Baptism of our

Lord. The two words seem both to have been used in the simplest sense of

the Manifestation of God, and certainly were applied to Christmas Day.

Thus Suidas, “The Epiphany is the Incarnation of the Savior;” and

Epiphanius (Haer., 53), “The Day of the Epiphany is the day on which

Christ was born according to the flesh.” But S. Jerome applies the word to

the Baptism of Christ; “The day of the Epiphany is still venerable; not, as

some think, on account of His Birth in the flesh; for then He was hidden,

not manifested; but it agrees with the time at which it was said, This is

My beloved Son (In Ezech. I.). There is also a Sermon, attributed to S.

Chrysostom, “On the Baptism of Christ,” in which it is expressly denied

that the name Theophany applies to Christmas. The Oration itself,

however, contains evidence to shew that the Festival of our Lord’s Birth

was kept at the earlier date; for in c. 16 the Preacher says, “A little later

you shall see Jesus submitting to be purified in the river Jordan for my

purification.” And another piece of evidence occurs in the oration In

Sancta Lumina, c. 14, “At His Birth we duly kept festival, both I the

leader of the feast, and you. Now we are come to another action of Christ

and another Mystery.”

 

The Oration is thus analyzed by Abbe Benoe it:

“After an exordium which is full of the enthusiasm and joy which such a

subject naturally inspires the Orator recommends his hearers to celebrate

the Festival by a pious gladness, and by hearing the Word of God; and not

as the heathen celebrated their feasts, by profane amusements and all kinds

of excess. He will try to satisfy their desires by speaking to them of God.

God is infinite, ineffable, eternal, the Sovereign Good. He created the

Angels in the beginning out of goodness. The fall of the Angels was

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followed by the creation of the material world. Man too fell, and God

shewed His mercy even in the punishment. He used various means to raise

him again; and at length He came Himself. Then the speaker forcibly

argues against those who misuse the infinite condescension of the Word to

contest His Godhead; he rapidly traces the principal features of His Life

— -at once human and Divine; and ends with a recommendation to his

hearers to imitate in all things the Life of Christ, so that they may have a

share in His Kingdom in Heaven.”

 

It is considered one of the best of Gregory’s discourses. “By the grandeur

of the plan,” says Benoit, “the elevation of the ideas, and the rich fund of

doctrine, this discourse is incontestably one of S. Gregory’s most

remarkable efforts.”

 

ORATION 38

ON THE THEOPHANY, OR BIRTHDAY OF CHRIST.

 

I. CHRIST IS BORN, glorify ye Him. Christ from heaven, go ye out to meet

Him. Christ on earth; be ye exalted. Sing unto the Lord all the whole earth;

and that I may join both in one word, Let the heavens rejoice, and let the

earth be glad, for Him Who is of heaven and then of earth. Christ in the

flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy; with trembling because of your

sins, with joy because of your hope. Christ of a Virgin; O ye Matrons live

as Virgins, that ye may be Mothers of Christ. Who doth not worship Him

That is from the beginning? Who doth not glorify Him That is the Last?

II. 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

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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 today, 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.

III. Of these on a future occasion; for the present the Festival is the

Theophany or Birth-day, for it is called both, two titles being given to the

one thing. For God was manifested to man by birth. On the one hand

Being, and eternally Being, of the Eternal Being, above cause and word, for

there was no word before The Word; and on the other hand for our sakes

also Becoming, that He Who gives us our being might also give us our

Well-being, or rather might restore us by His Incarnation, when we had by

wickedness fallen from well-being. The name Theophany is given to it in

reference to the Manifestation, and that of Birthday in respect of His

Birth.

IV. This is our present Festival; it is this which we are celebrating today,

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.

V. And how shall this be? Let us not adorn our porches, nor arrange

dances, nor decorate the streets; let us not feast the eye, nor enchant the

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ear with music, nor enervate the nostrils with perfume, nor prostitute the

taste, nor indulge the touch, those roads that are so prone to evil and

entrances for sin; let us not be effeminate in clothing soft and flowing,

whose beauty consists in its uselessness, nor with the glittering of gems or

the sheen of gold or the tricks of color, belying the beauty of nature, and

invented to do despite unto the image of God; Not in rioting and

drunkenness, with which are mingled, I know well, chambering and

wantonness, since the lessons which evil teachers give are evil; or rather

the harvests of worthless seeds are worthless. Let us not set up high beds

of leaves, making tabernacles for the belly of what belongs to debauchery.

Let us not appraise the bouquet of wines, the kickshaws of cooks, the

great expense of unguents. Let not sea and land bring us as a gift their

precious dung, for it is thus that I have learnt to estimate luxury; and let us

not strive to outdo each other in intemperance (for to my mind every

superfluity is intemperance, and all which is beyond absolute need), —

and this while others are hungry and in want, who are made of the same

clay and in the same manner.

VI. Let us leave all these to the Greeks and to the pomps and festivals of

the Greeks, who call by the name of gods beings who rejoice in the reek of

sacrifices, and who consistently worship with their belly; evil inventors

and worshippers of evil demons. But we, the Object of whose adoration is

the Word, if we must in some way have luxury, let us seek it in word, and

in the Divine Law, and in histories; especially such as are the origin of this

Feast; that our luxury may be akin to and not far removed from Him Who

hath called us together. Or do you desire (for today I am your entertainer)

that I should set before you, my good Guests, the story of these things as

abundantly and as nobly as I can, that ye may know how a foreigner can

feed the natives of the land, and a rustic the people of the town, and one

who cares not for luxury those who delight in it, and one who is poor and

homeless those who are eminent for wealth?

We will begin from this point; and let me ask of you who delight in such

matters to cleanse you mind and your ears and your thoughts, since our

discourse is to be of God and Divine; that when you depart, you may have

had the enjoyment of delights that really fade not away. And this same

discourse shall be at once both very full and very concise, that you may

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neither be displeased at its deficiencies, nor find it unpleasant through

satiety.

VII. God always was, and always is, and always will be. Or rather, God

always Isaiah For Was and Will be are fragments of our time, and of

changeable nature, but He is Eternal Being. And this is the Name that He

gives to Himself when giving the Oracle to Moses in the Mount. For in

Himself He sums up and contains all Being, having neither beginning in the

past nor end in the future; like some great Sea of Being, limitless and

unbounded, transcending all conception of time and nature, only

adumbrated by the mind, and that very dimly and scantily... not by His

Essentials, but by His Environment; one image being got from one source

and another from another, and combined into some sort of presentation of

the truth, which escapes us before we have caught it, and takes to flight

before we have conceived it, blazing forth upon our Master-part, even

when that is cleansed, as the lightning flash which will not stay its course,

does upon our sight... in order as I conceive by that part of it which we

can comprehend to draw us to itself (for that which is altogether

incomprehensible is outside the bounds of hope, and not within the

compass of endeavor), and by that part of It which we cannot comprehend

to move our wonder, and as an object of wonder to become more an object

of desire, and being desired to purify, and by purifying to make us like

God; so that when we have thus become like Himself, God may, to use a

bold expression, hold converse with us as Gods, being united to us, and

that perhaps to the same extent as He already knows those who are

known to Him. The Divine Nature then is boundless and hard to

understand; and all that we can comprehend of Him is His boundlessness;

even though one may conceive that because He is of a simple nature He is

therefore either wholly incomprehensible, or perfectly comprehensible.

For let us further enquire what is implied by “is of a simple nature.” For it

is quite certain that this simplicity is not itself its nature, just as

composition is not by itself the essence of compound beings.

VIII. And when Infinity is considered from two points of view, beginning

and end (for that which is beyond these and not limited by them is

Infinity), when the mind looks to the depth above, not having where to

stand, and leans upon phenomena to form an idea of God, it calls the

Infinite and Unapproachable which it finds there by the name of

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Unoriginate. And when it looks into the depths below, and at the future, it

calls Him Undying and Imperishable. And when it draws a conclusion

from the whole it calls Him Eternal (ai]wniov). For Eternity (ai[wn is

neither time nor part of time; for it cannot be measured. But what time,

measured by the course of the sun, is to us, that Eternity is to the

Everlasting, namely, a sort of time-like movement and interval co-extensive

with their existence. This, however, is all I must now say about God; for

the present is not a suitable time, as my present subject is not the doctrine

of God, but that of the Incarnation. But when I say God, I mean Father,

Son, and Holy Ghost. For Godhead is neither diffused beyond these, so as

to bring in a mob of gods; nor yet is it bounded by a smaller compass than

these, so as to condemn us for a poverty-stricken conception of Deity;

either Judaizing to save the Monarchia, or failing into heathenism by the

multitude of our gods. For the evil on either side is the same, though found

in contrary directions. This then is the Holy of Holies, which is hidden

even from the Seraphim, and is glorified with a thrice repeated Holy,

meeting in one ascription of the Title Lord and God, as one of our

predecessors has most beautifully and loftily pointed out.

IX. But since this movement of self-contemplation alone could not satisfy

Goodness, but Good must be poured out and go forth beyond Itself to

multiply the objects of Its beneficence, for this was essential to the highest

Goodness, He first conceived the Heavenly and Angelic Powers. And this

conception was a work fulfilled by His Word, and perfected by His Spirit.

And so the secondary Splendors came into being, as the Ministers of the

Primary Splendor; whether we are to conceive of them as intelligent

Spirits, or as Fire of an immaterial and incorruptible kind, or as some other

nature approaching this as near as may be. I should like to say that they

were incapable of movement in the direction of evil, and susceptible only

of the movement of good, as being about God, and illumined with the first

rays from God — for earthly beings have but the second illumination; but

I am obliged to stop short of saying that, and to conceive and speak of

them only as difficult to move because of him, who for his splendor was

called Lucifer, but became and is called Darkness through his pride; and the

apostate hosts who are subject to him, creators of evil by their revolt

against good and our inciters.

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X. Thus, then, and for these reasons, He gave being to the world of

thought, as far as I can reason upon these matters, and estimate great

things in my own poor language. Then when His first creation was in good

order, He conceives a second world, material and visible; and this a system

and compound of earth and sky, and all that is in the midst of them — an

admirable creation indeed, when we look at the fair form of every part, but

yet more worthy of admiration when we consider the harmony and the

unison of the whole, and how each part fits in with every other, in fair

order, and all with the whole, tending to the perfect completion of the

world as a Unit. This was to shew that He could call into being, not only a

Nature akin to Himself, but also one altogether alien to Himself. For akin

to Deity are those natures which are intellectual, and only to be

comprehended by mind; but all of which sense can take cognizance are

utterly alien to It; and of these the furthest removed are all those which are

entirely destitute of soul and of power of motion. But perhaps some one

of those who are too festive and impetuous may say, What has all this to

do with us? Spur your horse to the goal. Talk to us about the Festival, and

the reasons for our being here today. Yes, this is what I am about to do,

although I have begun at a somewhat previous point, being compelled to

do so by love, and by the needs of my argument.

XI. Mind, then, and sense, thus distinguished from each other, had

remained within their own boundaries, and bore in themselves the

magnificence of the Creator-Word, silent praisers and thrilling heralds of

His mighty work. Not yet was there any mingling of both, nor any

mixtures of these opposites, tokens of a greater Wisdom and Generosity in

the creation of natures; nor as yet were the whole riches of Goodness

made known. Now the Creator-Word, determining to exhibit this, and to

produce a single living being out of both — the visible and the invisible

creations, I mean — fashions Man; and taking a body from already existing

matter, and placing in it a Breath taken from Himself which the Word

knew to be an intelligent soul and the Image of God, as a sort of second

world. He placed him, great in littleness on the earth; a new Angel, a

mingled worshipper, fully initiated into the visible creation, but only

partially into the intellectual; King of all upon earth, but subject to the

King above; earthly and heavenly; temporal and yet immortal; visible and

yet intellectual; half-way between greatness and lowliness; in one person

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combining spirit and flesh; spirit, because of the favor bestowed on him;

flesh, because of the height to which he had been raised; the one that he

might continue to live and praise his Benefactor, the other that he might

suffer, and by suffering be put in remembrance, and corrected if he became

proud of his greatness. A living creature trained here, and then moved

elsewhere; and, to complete the mystery, deified by its inclination to God.

For to this, I think, tends that Light of Truth which we here possess but in

measure, that we should both see and experience the Splendor of God,

which is worthy of Him Who made us, and will remake us again after a

loftier fashion.

XII. This being He placed in Paradise, whatever the Paradise may have

been, having honored him with the gift of Free Will (in order that God

might belong to him as the result of his choice, no less than to Him who

had implanted the seeds of it), to till the immortal plants, by which is

meant perhaps the Divine Conceptions, both the simpler and the more

perfect; naked in his simplicity and in-artificial life, and without any

covering or screen; for it was fitting that he who was from the beginning

should be such. Also He gave him a Law, as a material for his Free Will to

act upon. This Law was a Commandment as to what plants he might

partake of, and which one he might not touch. This latter was the Tree of

Knowledge; not, however, because it was evil from the beginning when

planted; nor was it forbidden because God grudged it to us... Let not the

enemies of God wag their tongues in that direction, or imitate the

Serpent... But it would have been good if partaken of at the proper time,

for the tree was, according to my theory, Contemplation, upon which it is

only safe for those who have reached maturity of habit to enter; but which

is not good for those who are still somewhat simple and greedy in their

habit; just as solid food is not good for those who are yet tender, and have

need of milk. But when through the Devil’s malice and the woman’s

caprice, to which she succumbed as the more tender, and which she

brought to bear upon the man, as she was the more apt to persuade, alas

for my weakness! (for that of my first father was mine), he forgot the

Commandment which had been given to him; he yielded to the baleful

fruit; and for his sin he was banished, at once from the Tree of Life, and

from Paradise, and from God; and put on the coats of skins... that is,

perhaps, the coarser flesh, both mortal and contradictory. This was the

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first thing that he learnt — his own shame; and he hid himself from God.

Yet here too he makes a gain, namely death, and the cutting off of sin, in

order that evil may not be immortal. Thus his punishment is changed into

a mercy; for it is in mercy, I am persuaded, that God inflicts punishment.

XIII. And having been first chastened by many means (because his sins

were many, whose root of evil sprang up through divers causes and at

sundry tithes), by word, by law, by prophets, by benefits, by threats, by

plagues, by waters, by fires, by wars, by victories, by defeats, by signs in

heaven and signs in the air and in the earth and in the sea, by unexpected

changes of men, of cities, of nations (the object of which was the

destruction of wickedness), at last he needed a stronger remedy, for his

diseases were growing worse; mutual slaughters, adulteries, perjuries,

unnatural crimes, and that first and last of all evils, idolatry and the

transfer of worship from the Creator to the Creatures. As these required a

greater aid, so also they obtained a greater. And that was that the Word of

God Himself — Who is before all worlds, the Invisible, the

Incomprehensible, the Bodiless, Beginning of Beginning, the Light of Light,

the Source of Life and Immortality, the Image of the Archetypal Beauty,

the immovable Seal, the unchangeable Image, the Father’s Definition and

Word, came to His own Image, and took on Him flesh for the sake of our

flesh, and mingled Himself with an intelligent soul for my soul’s sake,

purifying like by like; and in all points except sin was made man.

Conceived by the Virgin, who first in body and soul was purified by the

Holy Ghost (for it was needful both that Childbearing should be honored,

and that Virginity should receive a higher honor), He came forth then as

God with that which He had assumed, One Person in two Natures, Flesh

and Spirit, of which the latter deified the former. O new commingling; O

strange conjunction; the Self-Existent comes into being, the Uncreate is

created, That which cannot be contained is contained, by the intervention

of an intellectual soul, mediating between the Deity and the corporeity of

the flesh. And He Who gives riches becomes poor, for He assumes the

poverty of my flesh, that I may assume the richness of His Godhead. He

that is full empties Himself, for He empties Himself of His glory for a

short while, that I may have a share in His Fullness. What is the riches of

His Goodness? What is this mystery that is around me? I had a share in

the image; I did not keep it; He partakes of my flesh that He may both

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save the image and make the flesh immortal. He communicates a second

Communion far more marvelous than the first, inasmuch as then He

imparted the better Nature, whereas now Himself partakes of the worse.

This is more godlike than the former action, this is loftier in the eyes of all

men of understanding.

XIV. To this what have those cavilers to say, those bitter reasoners about

Godhead, those detractors of all that is praiseworthy, those darkeners of

light, uncultured in respect of wisdom, for whom Christ died in vain, those

unthankful creatures, the work of the Evil One? Do you turn this benefit

into a reproach to God? Wilt thou deem Him little on this account, that He

humbled Himself for thee; because the Good Shepherd, He who lays down

His life for His sheep, came to seek for that which had strayed upon the

mountains and the hills, on which thou wast then sacrificing, and found the

wanderer; and having found it, took it upon His shoulders — on which He

also took the Wood of the Cross; and having taken it, brought it back to

the higher life; and having carried it back, numbered it amongst those who

had never strayed. Because He lighted a candle — His own Flesh — and

swept the house, cleansing the world from sin; and sought the piece of

money, the Royal Image that was covered up by passions. And He calls

together His Angel friends on the finding of the coin, and makes them

sharers in His joy, whom He had made to share also the secret of the

Incarnation? Because on the candle of the Forerunner there follows the

light that exceeds in brightness; and to the Voice the Word succeeds; and to

the Bridegroom’s friend the Bridegroom; to him that prepared for the Lord

a peculiar people, cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit?

Dost thou reproach God with all this? Dost thou on this account deem

Him lessened, because He girds Himself with a towel and washes His

disciples’ feet, and shows that humiliation is the best road to exaltation?

Because for the soul that was bent to the ground He humbles Himself, that

He may raise up with Himself the soul that was tottering to a fall under a

weight of sin? Why dost thou not also charge upon Him as a crime the fact

that He eats with Publicans and at Publicans’ tables, and that He makes

disciples of Publicans, that He too may gain somewhat... and what?... the

salvation of sinners. If so, we must blame the physician for stooping over

sufferings, and enduring evil odors that he may give health to the sick; or

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one who as the Law commands bent down into a ditch to save a beast that

had fallen into it.

XV. He was sent, but as man, for He was of a twofold Nature; for He was

wearied, and hungered, and was thirsty, and was in an agony, and shed

tears, according to the nature of a corporeal being. And if the expression be

also used of Him as God, the meaning is that the Father’s good pleasure is

to be considered a Mission, for to this He refers all that concerns Himself;

both that He may honor the Eternal Principle, and because He will not be

taken to be an antagonistic God. And whereas it is written both that He

was betrayed, and also that He gave Himself up and that He was raised up

by the Father, and taken up into heaven; and on the other hand, that He

raised Himself and went up; the former statement of each pair refers to the

good pleasure of the Father, the latter to His own Power. Are you then to

be allowed to dwell upon all that humiliates Him, while passing over all

that exalts Him, and to count on your side the fact that He suffered, but to

leave out of the account the fact that it was of His own will? See what

even now the Word has to suffer. By one set He is honored as God, but is

confused with the Father, by another He is dishonored as mere flesh and

severed from the Godhead. With which of them will He be most angry, or

rather, which shall He forgive, those who injuriously confound Him or

those who divide Him? For the former ought to have distinguished, and the

latter to have united Him; the one in number, the other in Godhead.

Stumblest Thou at His flesh? So did the Jews. Or dost thou call Him a

Samaritan, and... I will not say the rest. Dost thou disbelieve in His

Godhead? This did not even the demons, O thou who art less believing

than demons and more stupid than Jews. Those did perceive that the name

of Son implies equality of rank; these did know that He who drove them

out was God, for they were convinced of it by their own experience. But

you will admit neither the equality nor the Godhead. It would have been

better for you to have been either a Jew or a demoniac (if I may utter an

absurdity), than in uncircumcision and m sound health to be so wicked and

ungodly in your attitude of mind.

XVI. A little later on you will see Jesus submitting to be purified in the

River Jordan for my Purification, or rather, sanctifying the waters by His

Purification (for indeed He had no need of purification Who taketh away

the sin of the world) and the heavens cleft asunder, and witness borne to

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him by the Spirit That is of one nature with Him; you shall see Him

tempted and conquering and served by Angels, and healing every sickness

and every disease, and giving life to the dead (O that He would give life to

you who are dead because of your heresy), and driving out demons,

sometimes Himself, sometimes by his disciples; and feeding vast

multitudes with a few loaves; and walking dryshod upon seas; and being

betrayed and crucified, and crucifying with Himself my sin; offered as a

Lamb, and offering as a Priest; as a Man buried in the grave, and as God

rising again; and then ascending, and to come again in His own glory. Why

what a multitude of high festivals there are in each of the mysteries of the

Christ; all of which have one completion, namely, my perfection and

return to the first condition of Adam.

XVII. Now then I pray you accept His Conception, and leap before Him;

if not like John from the womb, yet like David, because of the resting of

the Ark. Revere the enrollment on account of which thou wast written in

heaven, and adore the Birth by which thou wast loosed from the chains of

thy birth, and honor little Bethlehem, which hath led thee back to Paradise;

and worship the manger through which thou, being without sense, wast

fed by the Word. Know as Isaiah bids thee, thine Owner, like the ox, and

like the ass thy Master’s crib; if thou be one of those who are pure and

lawful food, and who chew the cud of the word and are fit for sacrifice. Or

if thou art one of those who are as yet unclean and uneatable and unfit for

sacrifice, and of the gentile portion, run with the Star, and bear thy Gifts

with the Magi, gold and frankincense and myrrh, as to a King, and to God,

and to One Who is dead for thee. With Shepherds glorify Him; with

Angels join in chorus; with Archangels sing hymns. Let this Festival be

common to the powers in heaven and to the powers upon earth. For I am

persuaded that the Heavenly Hosts join in our exultation and keep high

Festival with us today... because they love men, and they love God just

like those whom David introduces after the Passion ascending with Christ

and coming to meet Him, and bidding one another to lift up the gates.

XVIII. One thing connected with the Birth of Christ I would have you

hate... the murder of the infants by Herod. Or rather you must venerate

this too, the Sacrifice of the same age as Christ, slain before the Offering of

the New Victim. If He flees into Egypt, joyfully become a companion of

His exile. It is a grand thing to share the exile of the persecuted Christ. If

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He tarry long in Egypt, call Him out of Egypt by a reverent worship of

Him there. Travel without fault through every stage and faculty of the Life

of Christ. Be purified; be circumcised; strip off the veil which has covered

thee from thy birth. After this teach in the Temple, and drive out the

sacrilegious traders. Submit to be stoned if need be, for well I wot thou

shalt be hidden from those who cast the stones; thou shalt escape even

through the midst of them, like God. If thou be brought before Herod,

answer not for the most part. He will respect thy silence more than most

people’s long speeches. If thou be scourged, ask for what they leave out.

Taste gall for the taste’s sake; drink vinegar; seek for spittings; accept

blows, be crowned with thorns, that is, with the hardness of the godly life;

put on the purple robe, take the reed in hand, and receive mock worship

from those who mock at the truth; lastly, be crucified with Him, and share

His Death and Burial gladly, that thou mayest rise with Him, and be

glorified with Him and reign with Him. Look at and be looked at by the

Great God, Who in Trinity is worshipped and glorified, and Whom we

declare to be now set forth as clearly before you as the chains of our flesh

allow, in Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom be the glory for ever.

Amen.

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