Sunday, December 11, 2016

christ our wonder

O great mystery,” cries the Christmas hymn, “and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger!”  The liturgical praise of the Church, from the Philippians hymn to O Magnum Mysterium, fulfills Gregory of Nazianzus’ command to his flock to “luxuriate in the word,”  and to “rejoice with trembling.”

Christ is boundless and, truly, “the only thing completely comprehensible about [the divine] is its boundlessness,” laughs Gregory, who I imagine is quite punch-drunk while delivering this oration. Heady on the soft vision of snow fall on a frozen world, staying up late to write his homily, and bursting with all the wonder of theophany that his sermon is celebrating.

The Divine Christ cannot be circumscribed by any proposition or formula of faith, but is constantly evading our definitions.

Thus, the Christian task is twofold. On one hand: to discover the shape of Christ’s boundless reality, chipping away the heterodox, to reveal the figure of the mystery. And, on the other, to luxuriate in the inexplicable wonder of Christ the cup who offers himself to our lips, to drink deeply of the marvel of God’s utter magnanimity to deign to be contemplated by weak human intellects. The Christian must praise “the incomprehensible one” who “has willed to be understood”  by poor humanity.

Oh great mystery, indeed, that Christ escapes our complete comprehension, and yet has blessed us by becoming a subject capable of contemplation

Oh new mixture! Oh unexpected blessing!”  shouts our wholly and holy intoxicated Gregory of Nazianzus on the feast of Christ’s Incarnation. God’s incomprehensibility is not cruel torture, whetting an ontologically insatiable appetite. No, rather, the Divine remains incomprehensible in order to “draw us to itself.” Piquing our wonder through the ineffable mystery of Christ, God seeks to “be yearned for all the more.”  By acting upon this holy yearning, we humans are purified, becoming, through imitation and grace, “like God,”  so that each one of us might become a new mixture of divine life also. Oh truly unexpected—and undeserved—blessing.

No comments:

Post a Comment