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EXEGESIS -- ANNUNCIATION AND INCARNATION (CONT.)

"Most appropriately does the Eucharist use the words, She was found with child, a mode of expression customary for things marvellous that come to pass beyond all hope and expectation. Go no further, nor seek for more than what is written, nor ask, how the Holy Ghost wrought this in the Virgin. For if it is impossible to explain the process of natural formation, how shall we be able to explain the action of the wonder-working Spirit? To prevent thee, then, from embarrassing the Evangelist and troubling him with unopportune questions, he relieves himself from all this by declaring the Author of the prodigy."*

"Who having heard was troubled at his saying," etc. -- Luke i. 29.

"Truly admirable was the Virgin: and Luke shows forth her virtue, saying that when she heard the salutation, instead of allowing herself to be carried away, or falling into a rapture,+ and at once receiving what was said, she was troubled, seeking what manner of salutation it might be."++

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child," etc. "And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the Angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife. And he knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born Son." -- Matt. i. 23-25.

"As an artist when he has found some very serviceable material, fashions it into a most beautiful vessel, so Christ on finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, constructed for Himself a living (empsuchon) temple, and formed, in the way He willed, man in the Virgin, and having clothed Himself therewith, came forth to-day...

"But what do I say, or how shall I speak? For the marvel astounds me. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He who is seated on His high and lofty throne is laid in a manger. The impalpable, simple, incomposite, and incorporeal, is swayed about in human hands. He who bursts asunder the chains of sin is folding in swathing-bands; since thus He wills it. For He wills to make dishonour, honour; to clothe the inglorious with glory, and to show forth the very limit of contumely as the measure of virtue. Hence He bears with my body, that I may have room for His Word; and taking my flesh He gives me His own Spirit, that by this giving and taking He may bestow on me the treasure of life. He takes my flesh that He may sanctify me, He gives me His Spirit that He may save me. But what say I, or what shall I speak? Behold, a Virgin shall conceive.** No longer is it now spoken of as something to be done, but it is marvelled at as already done. It was done amongst the Jews, amongst whom too it was spoken; but it is believed amongst us, amongst whom it was not even mentioned. Behold, a Virgin shall conceive. The letter is that of the synagogue, but the possession of the Church. The one found the parchments, the other discovered the pearl; the one dyed the wool, the other is clad in the robe of purple...

"It became the Dispenser of Sanctity to come forth by pure and holy childbirth. For it is He who of old formed Adam from virgin earth, but from Adam produced woman without woman. And as Adam produced woman without woman, so also to-day did the Virgin bring forth man without man. ... For this cause was He made flesh, that whom heaven cannot contain, the manger might hold. Therefore is He laid in the manger, that He by whom all infants are nourished, might Himself receive nourishment from a Virgin Mother. Therefore did the Father of the world to come hang upon the breast, and not refuse the virginal arms that thus He might be easily accessible to the Magi...


* Id. In Matt., Hom. iv. n. 3.

+ ouk eutheos eauten execheen, she did not straightway pour herself out.

++ Ib. n. 4.

** Is. vii. 14.

 

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