The Wonder of the Incarnation

  The Word, the Wisdom of God, was made flesh

from a Sermon of Peter Chrysologus

The blessed apostle has recalled that two men gave a beginning to the human race, namely Adam and Christ; two men equal in physical nature but unequal in merit; truly alike in their bodily structure, but totally dissimilar in their own origin.  ‘The first Adam', he says, ‘became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

That first Adam was made by this last, from whom he obtained the soul to give him life; the last was author of his own making: he did not look for life from another, but himself alone bestowed life on all.  The first Adam is moulded from the vile dust of the earth, the second comes forth from the precious womb of the Virgin.  In the first Adam earth is changed into flesh, in the last, flesh is raised up to God.

And what more?  This last is the Adam, who when forming the first set his own image in him.  Hence he assumed his role, and received his name to prevent the loss of what he had made to his own image.  There is a first Adam, then, and a last Adam: the first has a beginning, the last has no end.  Because this last is in truth himself the first, as he says, ‘I am the first and the last...'.

‘As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven'.  How shall those not born in such a condition be found so, remaining not as they were born, but as they were reborn?

This is the reason, brothers, why the heavenly Spirit makes fertile the womb of the virginal font, by the secret admixture of his light, that it may bring forth as heavenly creatures, and bring back to the likeness of the Creator, those whom their origin in earth's dust had produced as men of dust in miserable state.  So now reborn and refashioned to the likeness of our Creator, let us fulfil the apostle's command: ‘Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven'.

Now reborn after the pattern of our Lord, as I have said, let us bear the full and complete image of our maker; not in majesty, in which he is alone, but in innocence, simplicity, meekness, patience, humility, mercy and concord - in which he deigned to become and to be one with us.


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(c) 1998 Don Schwager