A Christmas Sermon: Part I

Today, the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ has dawned in festive splendor for us. It is His birthday, the day on which the Eternal Day was born. And hence it is this day because from this day forward the length of the day increases. Our Lord had two nativities: one divine, the other, human; both marvelous; the one without a woman as mother, the other without a man as father. Hence, the words of the Prophet Isaias may be applied to both generations: ‘Who shall declare his generation?’ Who would worthily tell of a God generating [His Son]? Who would worthily relate the parturition of a virgin? The former generation took place without the limits of time; the latter, on a definite day in time. Both happened without human calculation, and both are viewed with intense admiration. Consider that first generation: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God.’ Whose Word? That of the Father Himself. What Word? The Son Himself. Never did the Father exist without the Son, yet He who was never without the Son generated that Son. He generated Him, yet the Son had no beginning, for there is no beginning for Him who was generated without beginning. Nevertheless, He is the Son and He was generated. Someone is going to say: ‘How was He generated if He had ho beginning? If He was generated, He has a beginning; if he has no beginning, then, how was He generated?’ I do not know how this happened. Do you ask me, a mere man, how God was generated? I am troubled by your question, but I have recourse to the words of the Prophet: ‘Who shall declare his generation?’

 Come with me to [a consideration of] that human generation; come with me to that in which He ‘emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave,’ come, to see if we can comprehend it, to see if we can speak about it. For who would grasp the significance of: ‘Who though He was by nature God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be clung to?’ Who would understand that? Who would worthily ponder it? Whose mind would dare to investigate it? Whose tongue would have the temerity to utter a decision concerning it? Whose thought can encompass it? Meanwhile, let us lay aside this problem as being too weighty for us. But, so that it would not be too weighty for us, He ‘emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave and being made like unto men, ‘Where? In the Virgin Mary. Then, let us say something if we have any power of utterance. The angel announces; the Virgin hears, believes, conceives, faith in her mind, Christ in her womb. A virgin has conceived you are amazed; a virgin has brought forth a child you are more amazed; after childbirth she has remained a virgin therefore ‘Who shall declare his generation?’

This article is taken from a chapter in Christmas Around the Fire: Stories, Essays, & Poems for the Season of Christ’s Birth by Ryan N. S. Topping which is available from TAN Books.

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) was a prolific author and bishop. His autobiography, The Confessions of St. Augustine, is considered to be one of the greatest works ever written.