Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


St. Leo the Great on the Incarnation

'So the proper character of both natures was maintained and came together in a single person. Lowliness was taken up by majesty, weakness by strength, mortality by eternity. To pay off the debt of our state, invulnerable nature was united to a nature that could suffer; so that in a way that corresponded to the remedies we needed, one and the same mediator between God and humanity the man Christ Jesus, could both on the one hand die and on the other be incapable of death. Thus was true God born in the undiminished and perfect nature of a true man, complete in what is his and complete in what is ours. By "ours" we mean what the Creator established in us from the beginning and what he took upon himself to restore. There was in the Saviour no trace of the things which the Deceiver brought upon us, and to which deceived humanity gave admittance. His subjection to human weaknesses in common with us did not mean that he shared our sins. He took on the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, thereby enhancing the human and not diminishing the divine. For that self-emptying whereby the Invisible rendered himself visible, and the Creator and Lord of all things chose to join the ranks of mortals, spelled no failure of power: it was an act of merciful favour. So the one who retained the form of God when he made humanity, was made man in the form of a servant. Each nature kept its proper character without loss; and just as the form of God does not take away the form of a servant, so the form of a servant does not detract from the form of God.'

From Tome to Flavian

I have begun reading through the works of St. Leo and St. Gregory the Great (their works being appended together in the Oxford translation of the Fathers), and have found Leo to be an immensely profitable exponent of the Incarnation. I understand that he is the most esteemed of the Latins in the East, primarily for this Tome, which was employed at Chalcedon. I would quite concur with the judgment of the East.

St. Leo makes a point employing the final chapters of the Gospel of John, refering to the Lord's repeated demonstration of His physical reality. Carrying Leo's thoughts further: notice the settings and actions that the Risen Lord engages in after the Resurrection. Most of them are remarkably human: He sits down to eat and drink, He is touched, He kindles a fire and broils fish- all very human actions. There are relatively few miracles recorded: the miraculous apperances, and the remarkable catching of the fish, but besides these and a few others, most of what the Lord does demonstrates His humanity. The ending of John's Gospel is thus quite different in emphasis from the prologue. At the beginning we see the Word in His divinity, creating, proclaimed as Life and Light, existing before and above the ages. At the conclusion we see the wholly Divine Word made flesh cooking and eating fish with His friends beside a campfire. And yet He is most certainly a Man like no other: He is risen from the dead, He does not seem bound (in the same respect as ourselves) by time and space, and He is still certainly Lord over nature, even in His Incarnation. He is glorified, but His humanity is not destroyed. This is one of the central points of our salvation, and the idea that sets it off from so many other schemes of redemption: we do not look for the destruction of our humanity; rather, we look for the rebirth and complete renewal, the realization and fulfillment, of our humanity. We are not absorbed into God; we are united with God in perfect communion. These are all brought about and reflected to us in the person of Christ- and hence the necessity of maintaining the orthodox understanding of the mystery. Wrong thinking here is most perilous, for its reverberates through every other avenue of thought.

'There is nothing unreal about this oneness, since both the lowliness of the man and the grandeur of the divinity are in mutual relation. As God is not changed by showing mercy, neither is humanity devoured by the dignity received.'


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