Friday, December 21, 2007

Christ's Nativity: Word and Sacrament

Location is important. Lots of people this time of year draw meaning from the lowly birthplace of Jesus: the eating trough in a stable. This low beginning is used to underline the fact that the King of the Universe humbled Himself and descended to man.

Our fathers agreed, but also saw a sacramental character in the nativity of Our Lord. They looked at the event and location of Christ's birth as typological references to the Sacraments of the Altar and Baptism.

Here is a baptismal expression of the nativity:

"Although, therefore, that infancy, which the majesty of God's Son did not disdain, reached mature manhood by the growth of years and, when the triumph of His passion and resurrection was completed, all the actions of humility which were undertaken for us ceased, yet to-day's festival renews for us the holy childhood of Jesus born of the Virgin Mary; and in adoring the birth of our Saviour, we find we are celebrating the commencement of our own life. For the birth of Christ is the source of life for Christian folk, and the birthday of the Head is the birthday of the body."

"Although every individual that is called has his own order, and all the sons of the Church are separated from one another by intervals of time, yet as the entire body of the faithful being born in the font of baptism is crucified with Christ in His passion, raised again in His resurrection, and placed at the Father's right hand in His ascension, so with Him are they born in this nativity." -St. Leo the Great

Here is a eucharistic expression of the nativity:

"He found that man had become a beast in his soul and so He is placed in the manger, in the place of fodder, that we, changing our animal way of living, may be led back to wisdom that becomes humanity stretching out not towards animal fodder but to the heavenly bread for the life of this body." -St. Cyril of Alexandria

HT: Our beloved Pastor Paul Alms at Incarnatus Est

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