[Christ] is called Man... that by Himself He may sanctify humanity, and be as it were a leaven to the whole lump; and by uniting to Himself that which was condemned may release it from all condemnation, becoming for all men all things that we are, except sin; --body, soul, mind and all through which death reaches--and thus He became Man, who is the combination of all these; God in visible form, because He retained that which is perceived by mind alone. He is Son of Man, both on account of Adam, and of the Virgin from Whom He came; from the one as a forefather, from the other as His Mother, both in accordance with the law of generation, and apart from it. He is Christ, because of His Godhead. For this is the Anointing of His Manhood, and does not, as is the case with all other Anointed Ones, sanctify by its action, but by the Presence in His Fulness of the Anointing One; the effect of which is that That which anoints is called Man, and makes that which is anointed God. He is The Way, because He leads us through Himself.-St. Gregory Nazienzen, Orations
For the past few days, the liturgical readings have been emphasizing a few important things:
1) Christ is truly human, and the meaning of the Incarnation is that the second person of the Trinity truly did assume human flesh, and not the appearance thereof. We see this especially in the geneology of Matthew heard on Monday (Matthew 1:1-17), which seeks to confirm the veracity of Christ's humanity.
2) That Christ is truly God-- we hear in today's readings the proclamations of the angel Gabriel announcing the conceptions of Samson and John, who are called "consecrated to God", and how this is distinct from Gabriel's annunciation of the conception of Jesus (in tomorrow's reading), who is called "Son of the Most High". We know that Jesus is no mere judge or prophet.
3) That though we are deserving of condemnation, the Incarnation--the true humanity of our God who is the Word made flesh--serves to remove the condemnation against us. On Sunday we heard the following from the prophet Zephaniah:
Shout for joy, daughter Zion! sing joyfully, Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, daughter Jerusalem!h 15 The LORD has removed the judgment against you. (Zep 3:14-15a)
Gregory Nazienzen's words, quoted above, remind us of how important it is to ponder the Incarnation, the means by which God descended to make Godself The Way for us, and in so doing sanctified all of humanity.
Christmas grows closer and closer as we near the end of the last full week of Advent. Join us at 8:30pm EST for the 3rd installment of Wait and See, a special Advent journey with Father Richard Erickson.