Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day: An Excerpt from Augustine

This excerpt from a sermon by St. Augustine was read towards the end of our Christmas Eve service.

Awake, mankind!
For your sake God has become man.

Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead,
and Christ will enlighten you.

I tell you again: for your sake,
God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death,
had he not been born in time.

Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh,
had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh.

You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness,
had it not been for this mercy.

You would never have returned to life,
had he not shared your death.

You would have been lost
if he had not hastened to your aid.

You would have perished,
had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate
the coming of our salvation and redemption.

Let us celebrate the festive day
on which he who is the great and eternal day
came from the great and endless day of eternity
into our own short day of time.

He has become our justice,
our sanctification,
our redemption,
so that,
as it is written:
Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth:
Christ who said, I am the Truth,
was born of the Virgin.

And justice looked down from heaven:
because believing in this new-born child,
man is justified not by himself but by God.

Truth has arisen from the earth:
because the Word was made flesh.
And justice looked down from heaven:
because every good gift
and every perfect gift is from above.

Truth has arisen from the earth:
flesh from Mary.
And justice looked down from heaven:
for man can receive nothing
unless it has been given him from heaven.

Justified by faith,
let us be at peace with God:
for justice and peace have embraced one another
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
for Truth has arisen from the earth.

Through Him we have access to that grace
in which we stand,
and our boast is in our hope of God’s glory.

He does not say: “of our glory,”
but of God’s glory:
for justice has not come out of us
but has looked down from heaven.

Therefore he who glories,
let him glory, not in himself,
but in the Lord.

For this reason,
when our Lord was born of the Virgin,
the message of the angelic voices was:
Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to men of good will.

For how could there be peace on earth
unless Truth has arisen from the earth,
that is, unless Christ were born of our flesh?

And he is our peace who made the two into one:
that we might be men of good will,
sweetly linked by the bond of unity.

Let us then rejoice in this grace,
so that our glorying may bear witness
to our good conscience by which we glory,
not in ourselves, but in the Lord.

That is why Scripture says:
He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head.
For what greater grace could God have made
to dawn on us
than to make his only Son become the son of man,
so that a son of man might
in his turn become son of God?

Ask if this were merited;
ask for its reason,
for its justification,
and see whether you will
find any other answer but sheer grace.

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