AthanasiusJanuary 18th, Saints Athanasius and Cyril, Patriarchs of Alexandria.

The Word perceived that not otherwise could the corruption of men be undone save by death as a necessary condition.

Yet it was impossible for the Word to suffer death, being immortal, and Son of the Father.

He takes to Himself a body capable of death, so that, by partaking of the Word Who is above all, it might be worthy to die in the stead of all, and might, because of the Word which was come to dwell in it, remain incorruptible, and that thenceforth corruption might be stayed from all by the Grace of the Resurrection.

[…] And thus He, the incorruptible Son of God, being conjoined with all by a like nature, naturally clothed all with incorruption, by the promise of the resurrection.

For the actual corruption in death no longer has holding-ground against men, by reason of the Word, which by His one body has come to dwell among them.

When a great king has entered into some large city and taken up his abode in one of the houses there, such a city is…held worthy of high honour, nor does any enemy or bandit any longer descend upon it and subject it.

On the contrary, it is thought entitled to all care, because of the king’s having taken up his residence in a single house there.

So, too, has it been with the Monarch of all.

For now that He has come to our realm, and taken up his abode in one body among His peers, henceforth the whole conspiracy of the enemy against mankind is checked, and the corruption of death which before was prevailing against them is done away.

For the race of men would have gone to ruin, had not the Lord and Saviour of all, the Son of God, come among us to meet the end of death.

[…] Now in truth this great work was peculiarly suited to God’s goodness.

A king who founds a house or city which is beset by bandits from the carelessness of its inmates does not by any means neglect it, but…reclaims it as his own work, having regard not to the carelessness of the inhabitants but to what beseems himself.

Accordingly, much more did God the Word of the all-good Father not neglect the race of men, His work,when it was going to corruption.

Rather, while He blotted out the death which had ensued by the offering of His own body, He corrected their neglect by His own teaching, restoring all that was man’s by His own power.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 9 & 10 [slightly adapted].