Through the light of the Spirit we behold the Son, the splendor of God’s glory, and through the Son, the very stamp of the Father, we are led to him who is the source both of his stamp, who is the Son, and of its seal, who is the Holy Spirit.
—Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, 26
Therefore let us hasten to this place [Bethlehem] where for our sake the eternal God was born as a little child!
—Ikos of the Nativity of the Lord
The very Word of God, more ancient than the ages, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the principle issuing from principle, the light born of light, the source of life and of immortality, the imprint of the divine model, the immutable seal, the perfect image, and the definitive word of the Father proceeds toward his own image, clothes himself with flesh to save the flesh, unites a thinking soul to himself for the sake of my soul so as to purify the like by the like, and assumes all that is human with the exception of sin.
He who is fullness empties himself. He empties himself at the moment of his glory to enable me to share his fullness.
—Gregory of Nazianzus, Discourses 45
It is, therefore, with an unmistakable tenderness that so great a wealth of divine goodness has been poured out on us, dearly beloved. Not only has the usefulness of foregoing examples served in calling us to eternity, but the Truth himself has even “appeared” in a visible body. We ought, then, to celebrate this day of the Lord’s birth with no listless and worldly joy.
—Leo the Great, Sermons 23.5
Our faith is not founded upon empty words; nor are we carried away by mere caprice or beguiled by specious arguments. On the contrary, we put our faith in words spoken by the Word himself at God’s command. God wished to win us back from disobedience, not by using force to reduce us to slavery but by addressing to our free will a call to liberty.
Without protest he endured his passion, he submitted to death and revealed his resurrection. In all these ways he offered his own humanity as the firstfruits of our race to keep us from losing heart when suffering comes our way, and to make us look forward to receiving the same reward as he did, since we know that we possess the same humanity…We shall enter the kingdom of heaven, because while we lived on earth we acknowledged heaven’s King.
—Hippolytus, On the Refutation of All Heresies 10, 33-34
How could he have given himself if he had not worn flesh? He offered his flesh and gave himself for us, in order that undergoing death in it, “He might bring to nothing the one who held the power of death, that is, the devil.” For this reason we continually give thanks in the name of Jesus Christ. We do not bring to nothing the grace which came to us through him. For the coming of the Savior in the flesh has been the ransom and salvation of all creation.
—Athanasius, Letter to Adelphus
It is as if God the Father sent upon the earth a purse full of his mercy. This purse was burst open during the Lord’s passion to pour forth its hidden contents—the price of our redemption. It was only a small purse, but it was very full. As the Scriptures tell us: “A little child has been given to us, but in him who dwells with the fullness of the divine nature.” The fullness of time brought with it the fullness of divinity. God’s Son came in the flesh so that mortals could see and recognize God’s kindness. When God reveals his humanity, his goodness cannot possibly remain hidden…How could he have shown his mercy more clearly than by taking on himself our condition? We should stop thinking of our own sufferings and remember what he has suffered. The lesser he became through his human nature, the greater was his goodness; the more he lowered himself for me, the dearer he is to me…He has given us a most wonderful proof of his goodness by adding humanity to his own divine nature.
—Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon 1 for Epiphany
When Isaac himself carried the wood for the sacrifice of himself, in this, too, he prefigured Christ our Lord, who carried his own cross to the place of his passion. On this mystery much had already been foretold by the prophets: “And his government shall be upon his shoulders.” Christ, then, had the government upon his shoulders when he carried his cross with wonderful humility. Not unfittingly does Christ’s cross signify government: by it the devil is conquered and the whole world recalled to the knowledge and grace of Christ.
—Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 84.3
Today was born the child, his name was called Wonderful! [see Isaiah 9:6] For a wonder it is that God should reveal himself as a baby.
—Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on the Nativity
He chose to lack for himself, that he may abound for all. The sobs of that appalling infancy cleanse me, those tears wash away my sins. Therefore, Lord Jesus, I owe more to your sufferings because I was redeemed than I do to works for which I was created. You see that he is in swaddling clothes. You do not see that he is in heaven. You hear the cries of an infant, you do not hear the lowing of an ox recognizing its Master, for the ox knows his Owner and the donkey his Master’s crib.
—Ambrose, Exposition of the Gospel of Luke: 2:41-42
He was a baby and a child, so that you may be a perfect human. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes, so that you may be freed from the snares of death. He was in a manger, that you may be at the altar. He was on earth that you may be in the stars. He had no other place in the inn, so that you may have many mansions in the heavens. He, being rich, became poor for your sakes, that through his poverty you may be rich. Therefore his poverty is our inheritance, and the Lord’s weakness is our virtue.
—Ambrose, Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 2:41-42
Rejoice, O Jerusalem, and celebrate, all who love Zion! Today the ancient bond of the condemnation of Adam is loosed. Paradise is opened to us. Therefore let all creation sing and dance for joy. Christ has come to restore it and to save our souls!
—John the Monk, Stichera of the Nativity of the Lord