Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Paradox of the Nativity - 'He shares with us'

Dear Parish Faithful,

Christ is Born!
Glorify Him!

In his famous Oration 38, "On the Nativity of Christ," St. Gregory goes a long way in succeeding to capture the paradox of God becoming flesh as Jesus of Nazareth. His rhetorical skills are in full play, but more important is his knowledge of Scripture and his charism as a great theologian in conveying to us the mystery, grandeur and humility of the Incarnation:

He was conceived by the Virgin, who was purified beforehand in both soul and flesh by the Spirit, for it was necessary that procreation be honored and that virginity be honored more. He comes forth, God with what he has assumed, one from two opposites, flesh and spirit, the one deifying and the other deified. O the new mixture! O the paradoxical blending! He who is comes into being, and the uncreated is created, and the uncontained is contained, through the intervention of the rational soul, which mediates between the divinity and the coarseness of the flesh. The one who enriches becomes poor; he is made poor in my flesh, that I might be enriched through his divinity. The full one empties Himself; for he empties himself of his own glory for a short time, that I may participate in his fullness. What is the wealth of his goodness? What is this mystery concerning me? I participated in the divine image, and I did not keep it; he participates in my flesh both to save the image and to make the flesh immortal. He shares with us a second communion, much more paradoxical than the first; then he gave us a share in what is superior, now he shares in what is inferior. This is more godlike than the first; this, to those who can understand, is more exalted.

Notice how God "shares" with us. He assumes our human nature so that we can, by grace, share in His divine nature. The whole movement of "self-emptying" (kenosis) on the part of God is for our sake, so that we can be enriched in the process. St. Gregory expresses all of this with his characteristic combination of oratorical skills and deep insight into the mystery of God made flesh.

Fr. Steven

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