Sermon 192

 St. Augustine

(1) On this day 'Truth is sprung out of the earth'[1] Christ was born as Man. Rejoice as befits a great feast; reminded by this temporal day, consider the Eternal Day and desire eternal gifts with unfaltering hope; according to the privilege granted to you, presume to be the sons of God. For your sake the Maker of time has been made in time; for your sake the divine Architect of the world has appeared in human form; for your sake the Creator has been created. Why, O mortals, are you still delighted with passing trifles and why do you attempt to grasp this fleeting life, as if this could be done? A far brighter hope has now shone upon the earth as a pledge to mortal men of life in heaven. To gain credence in this promise an incredible event has been permitted. He who was God became Man in His effort to make godlike those who were men; without relinquishing what He was, He desired to become what He had made. He Himself fashioned what He would become, in that He added man's nature to God without losing God's nature in man. We marvel at the child-bearing of a virgin and we try to convince unbelievers of this unheard-of manner of birth wherein the fetal life began without seed, and the mother, without human intercourse, brought forth a son of man, whose father she did not embrace as man, and wherein the integrity of virginity remained intact in conception and incorrupt in parturition. God's power is wonderful but more marvelous is His mercy, for He, who was able to be born in this manner, wished to be so born. He who was born as the only Son of His Mother was already the only Son of His Father; He was fashioned as man by the Mother whom He Himself had made; existing eternally with His Father, He took a temporal existence from His Mother; created by His Mother after His Mother, He was uncreated by His Father before all time; without Him the Father never existed; without Him His Mother would never have existed.


(2) Rejoice, virgins of Christ, for the Mother of Christ is your associate. You could not have borne the Christ-Child, but for the love of Christ you have not desired to bear any child. He who was not born of you was born for you. However, if you remember His words, as you should, you know that you are His mothers because you do the will of His Father. For He Himself has said: 'Whoever does the will of my Father ... he is my brother and sister and mother.'[2] Rejoice, widows of Christ, for you have vowed the holiness of continency to Him who made your virginity fruitful. Rejoice, you who are chaste in marriage, living faithfully with your husbands; guard in your hearts what you have lost in body. Since physical integrity is no longer possible for you, let your conscience be intact in faith even as the whole Church is virginal. In Mary, consecrated virginity brought forth Christ; in Anna, aged widowhood recognized the little Christ; in Elizabeth, conjugal chastity and late fertility struggled for Christ. All classes of faithful members have brought to their Head what by His grace they were able to give. In like manner do you, because Christ is Truth and Peace and Justice, conceive Him in faith and show Him forth in works. Let your heart accomplish in the law of Christ what Mary's womb wrought in the flesh of Christ. How are you not included in the child-bearing of the Virgin since you are the members of Christ? Mary brought forth your Head; the Church, you His members. For the Church, too, is both mother and virgin: mother by the bowels of charity, virgin by the integrity of faith and piety. She brings forth diverse peoples, but they are members of Him whose body and spouse she is, and even in this respect she bears the likeness of the Virgin because in the midst of many she is the mother of unity.


(3) Let us all, therefore, unanimously, with chaste minds and holy affections, celebrate this birthday of the Lord on which we came into being according to the words: 'Truth is sprung out of the earth.'[3] For the following passage of the same psalm has already been fulfilled. When He who sprang from this earth, that is, who was born of flesh, ascended into heaven, then without a doubt 'Justice hath looked down from heaven,' because He came from heaven and is above all men.[4] He Himself commends this justice in the words He used when promising the Holy Spirit: 'He will convict the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment: of sin? because they do not believe in me; of justice, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more.'[5] This is the justice which hath looked down from heaven for 'his going out is from the end of heaven, and his circuit even to the end thereof.'[6] Lest anyone should despise the Truth because He sprang from the earth when as a spouse He came forth from His bride-chamber, that is, from the virginal womb and when He, the Word of God, was united in an ineffable union with human nature I repeat, lest anyone should despise Him on that account and believe that Christ, although marvelous in His birth, and in His words and deeds, was, because of the likeness of sinful flesh, nothing more than man, the Psalmist, after saying: 'As a bridegroom coming out of his bride-chamber hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way,' immediately adds: 'His going out is from the end of heaven.'[7] Therefore, the words which you hear, 'Truth is sprung out of the earth,' constitute an honor, not a mere condition; they are a mark of mercy, not of misery. Truth descended from heaven that He might spring forth from earth; His going out is from the end of heaven so that as a bridegroom He might proceed from His bride-chamber. Hence it is that He was born on the day which is the shortest in our earthly reckoning and from which subsequent days begin to increase in length. He, therefore, who bent low and lifted us up chose the shortest day, yet the one whence light begins to increase. By such a coming, though silent, He urged us, as with the sound of a mighty voice, to learn how to be rich in Him who became poor for us; to accept freedom in Him who took the form of a slave for us; to possess heaven in Him who sprang from earth for us.

[1] Ps. 84.12.

[2] Cf. Matt. 12.50.

[3] Ps. 84.12.

[4] Cf. John 3.31.

[5] John 16.8-10.

[6] Ps. 18.7.

[7] Ps. 18,6,7.



Adoration of the Shepherds


All rights reserved.

Top of page