‘Born to Raise the Sons of Earth’
A Passionist Christmas Reflection based on the book Cradle of Redeeming Love by John Saward (I use this book each year to prepare for the Christmas Season.)
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth!
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing – By Charles Wesley
The Cross casts a long shadow over the Crib. No sooner is Jesus born that Herod wants Him dead. Simeon prophesies that the sign of the Son will be contradicted and the soul of the Mother pierced with a sword…From Mary of Nazareth’s undefiled womb to Joseph of Arimathea’s unused tomb, the Son of God continues on His course in human flesh, His single-minded and wholehearted voyage of obedience to the Father and of love for mankind. Since the end lies hidden in the beginning and the beginning becomes clear at the end, it is not out of place for the Church’s preachers to slip in a mention of the Cross and Resurrection Christmas Day and the Incarnation and Nativity during Holy Week and Eastertide.
It is fitting, brethren, that on the day of our Lord’s Nativity you should also hear about the day of our Lord’s Resurrection. For just as the only-begotten God deigned to be born for us, so He deigned in the flesh to die for us, and He deigned also to rise again…Conceived in the womb, He was made a sharer of our death; rising from the tomb, He has made us sharers of His life.
– Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe – born 468, died 533
The Crib of the Virgin Birth, the Cross of the Atoning Sacrifice, and the Empty Tomb of the Bodily Resurrection represent the first moments and the final hour of the work by which, in a created human nature, the uncreated Word, through whom all things were made, repairs the world damaged by Adam’s sin.
Thou hast come, O Resurrection of the nations, To bring back the nature of man from its wanderings, Leading it from the hills of the wilderness to a pasture rich in flowers. Do thou destroy the violent strength of the murderer of man, O thou who in they providence hast appeared as man and God.
– Matins, Feast of the Nativity
St. Bernard argues that, while the Nativity of our Lord contains spiritual treasures in profusion, the believer can lay hold of them only through the merits of His Passion. We ‘seek in His Passion what He brought us at His Birth, for it was in His Passion that the coffer was broken and the treasure it contained poured out as the price of our salvation’.
The Child in the Manger is already both Priest and Victim. As Mary and Joseph and the shepherds gaze upon Him, He at His soul’s fine point, gazes upon the heavenly Father and renders Him His whole assumed humanity, in its childhood simplicity: ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God.’
With a perfect will [says Blessed Dom Marmion], Christ accepted that sum of sorrows which began with the lowliness of the Manger and only to be ended by the ignominy of the Cross. From His entrance into this world, Christ offered Himself as Victim: the first action of His life was a sacerdotal act. What creature is able to measure the love that filled this sacerdotal act of Jesus? Who is able to know its intensity and describe its splendor? The silence of adoration can alone praise it in some degree.