On the Third Day of Christmas: The Incarnation – Catholic Herald

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

On the Feast of St John the Evangelist, the great Apostle of the Incarnation, an extract from the third chapter of St Athanasius’s great treatise De Incarnatione. Athanasius was Bishop of Alexandria in the turbulent fourth century; he doughtily refuted the false teachings of the heresiarch Arius, and for his defence of the doctrine of the Incarnation he is numbered among the Doctors of the Church. Newman called him “[a] principal instrument, after the Apostles, by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been conveyed and secured to the world.”

Even an earthly king, though he is only a man, does not allow lands that he has colonized to pass into other hands or to desert to other rulers, but sends letters and friends and even visits them himself to recall them to their allegiance, rather than allow His work to be undone. How much more, then, will God be patient and painstaking with His creatures, that they be not led astray from Him to the service of those that are not, and that all the more because such error means for them sheer ruin, and because it is not right that those who had once shared His Image should be destroyed.

What, then, was God to do? What else could He possibly do, being God, but renew His Image in mankind, so that through it men might once more come to know Him? And how could this be done save by the coming of the very Image Himself, our Saviour Jesus Christ? Men could not have done it, for they are only made after the Image; nor could angels have done it, for they are not the images of God. The Word of God came in His own Person, because it was He alone, the Image of the Father Who could recreate man made after the Image.

[I]t was the Word of God, Who sees all that is in man and moves all things in creation, Who alone could meet the needs of the situation. [B]ut how was He to do it? By the same means as before, perhaps you will say, that is, through the works of creation. But this was proven insufficient. Men had neglected to consider the heavens before, and now they were looking in the opposite direction.

Wherefore, in all naturalness and fitness, desiring to do good to men, as Man He dwells, taking to Himself a body like the rest; and through His actions done in that body, as it were on their own level, He teaches those who would not learn by other means to know Himself, the Word of God, and through Him the Father.

He deals with them as a good teacher with his pupils, coming down to their level and using simple means. St Paul says as much: “Because in the wisdom of God the world in its wisdom knew not God, God thought fit through the simplicity of the News proclaimed to save those who believe.” Men had turned from the contemplation of God above, and were looking for Him in the opposite direction, down among created things and things of sense.

The Saviour of us all, the Word of God, in His great love took to Himself a body and moved as Man among men, meeting their senses, so to speak, halfway. He became Himself an object for the senses, so that those who were seeking God in sensible things might apprehend the Father through the works which He, the Word of God, did in the body. Read on clicking the link below…

On the Third Day of Christmas: The Incarnation – Catholic Herald

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