Christian, Remember Your Dignity!
A reading from the Christmas sermon of St. Leo the Great
Dearly beloved, today our Savior is born; let us rejoice. For there is no place for sadness on the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the promise of eternal happiness.
No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord, the destroyer of sin and death, finds none free from sin, so He is come to free us all. Let saints rejoice as they see victory at hand. Let sinners be glad as they are invited to forgiveness. Let pagans take courage as they are summoned to life.
In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its Creator: in order that the devil, the origin of death, might be conquered through that very nature by which he had conquered mankind.
A royal Virgin of the stem of David was chosen to conceive the Divinely-human offspring first in mind and then in body. And lest in ignorance of the heavenly counsel she should tremble at so strange a result, she learned from converse with an angel that what was to be wrought in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore the Word of God, Himself God, the Son of God who "in the beginning was with God,” and through whom "all things were made," with the purpose of delivering us from eternal death, became human: so bending Himself to take on our humility without decrease in his own majesty, that remaining what He was and assuming what He was not, He might unite the true form of a slave to that form in which he is equal to God the Creator, and join both natures together.
Without detriment to the properties of either substance which then came together in one person, majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality: and for the sake of redeeming our condition, true God and true man were combined to form one Lord, so that the Man Christ Jesus, could both die and rise again.
For unless he were true God, He would not bring us a remedy, unless he were true Man, he would not give us an example. And so at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy: Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace on earth to those of good will. For they see that the heavenly Jerusalem is being built from all the nations of the world. When the angels on high are so exultant at this marvelous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to our humble hearts?
Let us then, dearly beloved, give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in His great love for us He took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins He brought us to life with Christ, so that in Him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.
Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your Head and of whose Body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.
Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the Christ’s blood. He shall judge you in truth Who ransomed you in mercy, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever and ever. Amen.