Sermon of St. Augustine on Christmas Day

December 23, 2022
Source: District of Asia
Sermon of St. Augustine on Christmas Day

1. The mystery of the Incarnation means nothing to the worldly-wise.

This is the birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is the anniversary of the day on which Truth sprang out of the earth, and the Day of Day was born to bring light into our day. It is a day we ought to celebrate; let us rejoice and take delight in it. Our Christian faith alone can convey to us what this sublime act of humility gave to us. It is something that utterly escapes the understanding of unbelievers; because God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and has revealed them to little ones.  Let the humble, therefore, make God's humility their own. With help such as this, with this to carry, as it were, the burden of their weakness, they will arrive at the sublimity of God.

The "wise and prudent," referred to a moment ago, seek only the lofty things of God, and give no consideration to the lowly things; and because they ignore the latter, they will not compass the lofty things either. Foolish and fickle, proud and arrogant, they float, so to speak, in the air separating earth and sky. They are indeed wise and prudent, but of this world, and not of Him by whom the world was made. For if they had true wisdom, which is of God and is God, they would understand that it was possible for God to take on flesh, but that He could not be changed into flesh; they would understand that He took to Himself what He was not, and that He remained what He was; that He came to us as man without leaving the Father; that He remained with the Father what He is, while appearing to us as what we are; that His power was placed in the body of an Infant, yet this power did not come from the earth. His work, inasmuch as He remains with the Father, is the whole universe; and, inasmuch as He comes to us, His work is the fruit of the Virgin's womb.

Verily, the Virgin Mother, as much a virgin after giving birth as before conceiving, 8 gave evidence of His majesty. Her husband discovered that she was pregnant; he had not made her so. She was with Man without the co-operation of a man. Her fruitfulness was all the more wonderful as she was made fruitful without losing her virginity.

This great miracle those people prefer to regard as fiction rather than fact. So, because they cannot believe it, they disregard the humanity of Christ, the God-Man; because they cannot disregard His divinity, they do not believe it. But the more despicable to them, so much the more precious to us is the human body which God in His humility has assumed; and the more impossible to them, so much the more divine to us is the fruit of the Virgin's womb born man.

2. The birthday of Christ, a cause of joy for all.

Let us, then, celebrate the Lord's birthday with the full attendance and the enthusiasm that we should give it. Let men rejoice, let women rejoice. Christ was born Man; He was born of woman. Both sexes have been honored. Let him, therefore, who had been condemned before in the first man, now become a follower of the Second Man. A woman had been the cause of our death; a woman, again, gave birth to life for us. The likeness of sinful flesh n was born to purify the sinful flesh. For that reason, do not let the flesh be found with sin, but let sin die that nature may live; for He was born without sin, that he who was with sin might be reborn.

Young men, you who lead chaste lives, who have chosen to follow Christ in a special manner, who do not seek marriage rejoice! Not through marriage did He come to you, He in whom you have found your ideal: He wished to give you the strength to esteem lightly that through which you have come into being. You have come into being through carnal marriage, without which He came to join a spiritual marriage; and you to whom He has given a special vocation to marriage, He has enabled to spurn marriage.  Thus, it is that you have no desire for that by which you have been born; because more than others have you loved Him who was not born in this manner.

Rejoice, chaste virgins. A virgin has brought forth for you Him to whom you may espouse yourselves without corruption. Neither in conceiving Him nor in giving birth to Him can you destroy what you love.
Rejoice, you who are just. It is the birthday of Him who justifies.
Rejoice, you who are weak and sick. It is the birthday of Him who makes well.
Rejoice, you who are in captivity. It is the birthday of the Redeemer.
Rejoice, you who are slaves. It is the birthday of the Master.
Rejoice, you who are free. It is the birthday of Him who makes free.
Rejoice, you Christians all. It is Christ's birthday.

3. The nativity of Christ is twofold. The awesome miracle of the Divine Babe.

By His birth of an earthborn mother He hallowed this one day who by His birth of the Father was the Creator of all ages. In the one birth a mother was impossible, while for the other no human father was required. In fact, Christ was born both of a father and of a mother, both without a father and without a mother; of a father as God, of a mother as man; without a mother as God, without a father as man. Who, then, shall declare His generation? The one is without time, the other without seed; the one without beginning, the other without parallel; the one which has always been, the other which has never been before or since; the one which does not end, the other which begins where it ends.

Rightly, therefore, did the Prophets announce that He was to be born, and the heavens and the angels that He had been born.  He whose hands governed the world, lay in the manger; and Infant that He was, He was also the Word. Him whom the heavens cannot contain, the womb of one woman bore. She ruled our Ruler; she carried Him in whom we are; she gave milk to our Bread.

O manifest infirmity, O wondrous humility, in which all the greatness of God lay hid! The mother to whom His infancy was subject, He ruled with His power; and to her at whose breasts He nursed, He gave the nourishment of truth.

May He who did not shrink from taking a beginning even like unto ours, perfect in us His gifts; and may He also make us children of God, He who for our sakes wished to become a child of man.