See, the name of the Lord is coming from afar, says the prophet.

Who could doubt that something tremendous was responsible, when sublime majesty deigned to come down from such a distance to so unworthy a place?

Something tremendous it assuredly was: great mercy, abundant compassion, and overwhelming charity were the cause.

For what purpose did he come, according to our faith? It will be no arduous task to find out, since both his words and his deeds clearly proclaim the reason for his coming.

It was to search for the hundredth sheep which had strayed that he hastened down from the mountains;

he came for our sake so that his tender mercies and his wonderful dealings with the children of Adam might more evidently give glory to the Lord.

How astonishing the condescension on the part of God who searches; how great the value of those he sought!

If we should wish to boast of it we shall not be acting foolishly; not that we can claim to be anything as of ourselves, but because he who made us has made us worth so much.

All riches, all the glory of the world and whatever in it is an object of desire pale before this glory, compared with which they are nothing.

Lord, what is man that you make so much of him and set your heart on him?

All the same I should like to know what it means that he came to us, rather than our going to him.

The need was ours, and it is not customary for the rich to go in search of the poor, even if they wish to make them some gift.

It would have been seemly, therefore, for us to go to him, but there was a double hindrance.

First, our eyes were dim, whereas he dwells in unapproachable light.

Second, lying paralysed on our pallet as we were, we tacked the strength to reach the summit of the Godhead.

So our most kindly Saviour, the physician of souls, came down from his great height and tempered his glory to our weak eyes.

He shielded himself in a lantern when he took to himself that glorious body entirely free from all stain.

This body assuredly is that very swift and shining cloud upon which the prophet foretold that he would ride to descend into Egypt.

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): Sermon 1 On the Advent of the Lord, 7-8, from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent Year 2.