St Augustine of AfricaThe birthday of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, on which Truth sprang forth from the earth (Ps. 84:12) and the procession of day from day extending even unto our time began, has, with the return of its anniversary, dawned upon us today as deserving of special celebration.

‘Let us be glad and rejoice therein’ (Ps. 118:24), for the faith of Christians holds fast to the joy which the lowliness of such sublimity has offered to us, a joy far removed from the hearts of the wicked, since God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent and has revealed them to the little ones (Matt. 11:25).

Therefore, let the lowly hold fast to the lowliness of God so that, by means of this great help as by a beast of burden supporting their infirmity, they may come to the mountain of God.

[…] This child, born of the Father, created all ages; now, born of a mother, He has commended this day. That first nativity could not possibly have had a mother, nor did the second one call for any man as a father.

In a word, Christ was born of both a father and a mother, and He was born without a father and without a mother; for as God He was born of the Father and as Man He was born of a mother; as God He was born without a mother and as Man He was born without a father.

Therefore, ‘Who shall declare His generation?’ (Isa. 53:8) whether we consider His generation without the limits of time or that without seed; the one without a beginning or that without precedent; the one which has never ceased or that without previous or subsequent existence; the one which has no end or that which has its beginning there where it has its end.

Rightly, then, did the Prophets announce that He would be born; truly did the heavens and angels announce that He had been born. He who sustains the world lay in a manger, a wordless Child, yet the Word of God. Him whom the heavens do not contain the bosom of one woman bore.

She ruled our King; she carried Him in whom we exist; she fed our Bread. O manifest weakness and marvelous humility in which all divinity lay hid! By His power He ruled the mother to whom His infancy was subject, and He nourished with truth her whose breasts suckled Him.

May He who did not despise our lowly beginnings perfect His work in us, and may He who wished on account of us to become the Son of Man make us the sons of God.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Homily 184, 1&3,  from Saint Augustine: Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons, Homilies, translated by Sister Mary Sarah Muldowney, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 38), pp. 3-6.

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