Voices ever ancient, ever new. Advent: 17 December 2013

O Wisdom,
O holy Word of God,
You govern all creation with Your strong
yet tender care:
Come and show Your people
the way to salvation.

“Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers ...” (Matthew 1:2)

In an ancient work known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew, an anonymous ancient Christian writer offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel:

“Abraham was the father of the faithful, and when God wished him to be an example for the virtuous, he said to him, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” So that all who should wish to be the sons of Abraham might know how to receive that living land of promise, it was written, “I believe that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Those who do not wish to imitate Abraham in faith cannot be the descendants of Abraham. Then “Abraham was the father of Isaac,” which itself was first interpreted as a jest. However, it is the laughter of the holy. It is not the idiotic cackling of lips but a rational joy of the heart, which was the mystery of Christ penetrating all things. For in this way Isaac was bestowed to parents who had long given up hope as a joy in their extreme old age. Isaac was not understood as a son of nature but as a son of grace. In this way Isaac was born by a Judean mother at the very end of her life as a joy for all to behold. In this same way the angel spoke to the shepherds: “Lo, I announce to you a great joy which will be for all people.” And in this same way the apostle said, “When the time came, God sent his Son born of a woman, born under law.” Although God’s son was born from a virgin and Isaac from an old woman, both were born wholly beyond the expectations of nature. The former [Isaac] had delayed until after his mother was able to give birth; the latter would arrive before his mother was able to give birth. The former was born from an old woman who was already failing to some extent; the latter was born from a chaste virgin. The former was born under a law that was to end; the latter under grace that would remain.” (Homily 1)

O God, Creator and Redeemer of human nature,
who willed that your Word should take flesh
in an ever-virgin womb,
look with favor on our prayers,
that your Only Begotten Son,
having taken to himself our humanity,
may be pleased to grant us a share in his divinity.
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to You Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning is now
and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia!