St-Gregory-the-DialogistWhy was a census of the whole world taken when the Lord was about to be born if not to give a clear indication that One was coming in a human body who would enroll his elect in eternal life?

[…] It was fitting for the Lord to be born in Bethlehem, because Bethlehem means the house of bread, and he himself said: I am the living bread which came down from heaven.

The place where the Lord was born was named the house of bread, because he who would refresh the minds of the elect with inner abundance was destined to appear there in the body.

The fact that his birth took place not in his parents’ home but while they were travelling was undoubtedly to show that, in a certain sense, through his assumed humanity, he was born as a foreigner….

He came to his own, and indeed in his own nature he was born before the beginning of time, but in ours he came in time.

Since therefore he appeared in time while remaining eternal, he descended as a foreigner

[…] God says through the prophet that all flesh is grass, but when the Lord became man he turned our grass into wheat, since he said of himself: Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain.

Therefore he also lay in the manger as a newborn babe to refresh all believers, like holy animals, with the nourishment of his own body, and assuage their hunger for the food of eternal knowledge.

The angel announced the birth of a king, and choirs of angels sang and rejoiced with him, proclaiming: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.

Before our Redeemer was born as a man we were at odds with the angels, being kept far from their glory and purity by our original fault and daily sins.

For since our sins made us strangers to God, the angels of the city of God considered us excluded from their fellowship.

On the other hand, when we recognized our King, the angels recognized us as fellow-citizens. They no longer dared to despise as weak and beneath those whom, in the King of Heaven, they worshiped above them.

[…] Let us, therefore, who in the eternal foreknowledge are citizens of the city of God and equal to the angels, take care that no impurity defiles us.

Human beings are called gods: for the honor of God, then, let us guard ourselves against sin, for whose sake God became man..

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Homily 8, PL 76, 1103-1105, from the Monastic Office of Vigils forDecember 29th @ Dom Donald’s Blog (Nunraw Abbey).