Golden Chain 9167
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AMBROSE; God in His mercy and readiness to pardon our sins, not only restores to us what He has taken away, but grants us favors even beyond our expectations. Let no one then distrust Him, let no one from consciousness of past sins despair of the Divine blessing. God knows how to change His sentence, if you have known how to correct your sin, seeing he that was long silent prophesies; as it is said, And Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit.
CHRYS. That is, "with the working of the Holy Spirit;" for he had obtained the grace of the Holy Spirit, not in any manner, but fully; and the gift of prophecy shone forth in trim; as it follows, And he prophesied.
ORIGEN; Now Zacharias being filled with the Holy Spirit utters two prophecies, the first relating to Christ, the second to John. And this is plainly proved by those words in which he speaks of the Savior as present and already going about in the world, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited, &c.
CHRYS. Zacharias, when he is blessing God, says, that He has visited His people, meaning thereby either the Israelites in the flesh, for He came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; or the spiritual Israel, that is, the faithful, who were worthy of this visitation, making the providence of God of good effect towards them.
THEOPHYL; But the Lord visited His people who were pining away as it were from long sickness, and by the blood of His only begotten Son, redeemed them who were sold under sin. Which thing Zacharias, knowing that it would soon be accomplished, relates in the prophetic manner as if it were already passed. But he says, His people, not that when He came He found them His own,, but that by visiting He made them so.
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THEOPHYL. God seemed to be asleep, disregarding the sins of the multitude, but in these last times coming in the flesh, He has risen up and trodden down the evil spirits who hated us. Hence it is said, And he has raised up an horn of salvation to us in the house of his servant David.
ORIGEN; Because Christ was born of the seed of David, according to the flesh, it is said, A horn of salvation to us in the house of his servant David; as it has also elsewhere been said, A vineyard has been planted in a horn, i.e. in Jesus Christ.
CHRYS. Now by a horn he means power, glory, and honor, deriving it metaphorically from the brute creatures, to whom God has given horns for defense and glory.
THEOPHYL; The kingdom of our Savior Christ is called also the horn of salvation, because all our bones are clothed with flesh, but the horn alone stretches beyond the flesh; so the kingdom of Christ is called the horn of salvation, as reaching beyond the world and the delights of the flesh. According to which figure David and Solomon were consecrated by the horn of oil to the glory of the kingdom.
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THEOPHYL. That Christ was born of the house of David, Micah relates, saying, And you, Bethlehem, are not the least in the city of Juda, for out of you shall come a governor who shall rule my people Israel. But all the prophets spoke of the Incarnation, and therefore it is said, As he spoke by the month of his holy prophets.
GREEK EX. Whereby he means that God spoke through them, and that their speech was not of man.
THEOPHYL; But he says, Which have been since the world began. Because all the Scriptures of the Old Testament were a constant prophecy of Christ. For both our father Adam himself, and the other fathers, by their deeds bore testimony to His dispensation.
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THEOPHYL; Having first briefly said, He has raised up a horn of salvation to us, he goes on to explain his words, adding, of salvation from our enemies. As if he said, He has raised up to us a horn, i.e. He has raised up to us salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us.
ORIGEN; Let us not suppose that this refers to our bodily enemies, but our ghostly. For the Lord Jesus came mighty in battle to destroy all our enemies, that He might deliver us from their snares and temptation.
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THEOPHYL; Having announced that the Lord, according to the declaration of the Prophet, would be born of the house of David, he now says, that the same Lord to fulfill the covenant He made with Abraham will deliver us, because chiefly to these patriarchs of Abraham's seed was promised the gathering of the Gentiles, or the incarnation of Christ. But David is put first, because to Abraham was promised the holy assembly of the Church; whereas to David it was told that from him Christ was to he born. And therefore after what was said of David, he adds concerning Abraham the words, To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, &c.
ORIGEN; I think that at the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, both Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were partakers of His mercy. For it is not to be believed, that they who had before seen His day, and were glad, should afterwards derive no advantage from His coming, since it is written, Having made peace through the blood of his Cross, whether in earth or in heaven.
THEOPHYL. The grace of Christ extends even to those who are dead, because through Him we shall rise again, not only we, but they also who have been dead before us. He performed His mercy also to our forefathers in fulfilling all their hopes and desires. Hence it follows, And to remember his holy covenant, that covenant, namely, wherein he said, Blessing, I will bless you, and multiplying, I will multiply you. For Abraham was multiplied in all nations, who became his children by adoption, through following the example of his faith. But the fathers also, seeing their children enjoy these blessings, rejoice together with them, just as if they received the mercy in themselves.
Hence it follows, The oath which he swore to our father Abraham, that he would grant to us.
BASIL; But let no one, hearing that the Lord had sworn to Abraham, be tempted to swear. For as when the wrath of God is spoken of, it does not signify passion but punishment; so neither does God swear as man, but His word is in very truth expressed to us in place of an oath, confirming by an unchangeable sentence what He promised.
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CHRYS. Having said that a horn of salvation had risen up to us from the house of David, he shows that through it we are partakers of His glory, and escape the assaults of the enemy As he says, That being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve him without fear. The two things above mentioned will not easily be found united. For many escape danger, but fail of a glorious life, as criminals discharged from prison by the king's mercy. On the other hand, some reap glory, but are compelled for its sake to encounter dangers, as soldiers in war embracing a life of honor are oftentimes in the greatest peril. But the horn brings both safety and glory. Safety indeed as it rescues us from the hands of our enemies, not slightly but in a wonderful manner, insomuch that we have no more fear, which are his very words; that being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we might serve him without fear.
ORIGEN; Or in another way; Frequently are men delivered from the hands of the enemy, but not without fear. For when fear and peril have gone before, and a man is then plucked from the enemies' hand, he is delivered indeed, but not without fear. Therefore said he, that the coming of Christ caused us to be snatched from the enemies' hands without fear. For we suffered not from their evil designs, but He suddenly parting us from them, has led us out to our own allotted resting place.
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CHRYS. Zacharias glorifies the Lord, because He has made us to serve Him with full confidence, not in the flesh as Judah did with the blood of victims, but in the spirit with good works. And this is what he means by in holiness and righteousness. For holiness is, a proper observance of our duty towards God, righteousness of our duty towards man; as, for example, when a man devoutly performs the Divine commands, and lives honorably among his fellow men. But he does not say "before men," as of hypocrites desirous to please men, but "before God," as of those whose praise is not of men, but of God; and this not once or for a time; but all the days of their life, as it is said, all our days.
THEOPHYL; For whosoever either departs from God's service before he dies, or by any uncleanness stains either the strictness or purity of his faith, or strives to be holy and righteous before men, and not before God, does not yet serve the Lord in perfect freedom from the hand of his spiritual enemies, but after the example of the old Samaritans endeavors to serve equally the Gods of the Gentiles, and his Lord.
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AMBROSE; In prophesying of the Lord he rightly addresses the prophet, showing that prophecy also is a gift of the Lord, in order that he might not, while enumerating public benefits, seen to be so ungrateful as to be silent of his own. Hence it is laid, And you, child, shall be called the Prophet of the Highest.
ORIGEN; The reason I suppose that Zacharias hastened to speak to his son, was because he knew that John was shortly about to be a sojourner in the wilderness, and that he himself should see him no more.
AMBROSE; Now perhaps some may think it an absurd extravagance of the mind to address a child of eight days old. But if we keep our eyes fixed upon higher things, we surely can understand that the son might hear the voice of his father, who before he was born heard the salutation of Mary. The Prophet knew that there were certain organs of healing in a Prophet which were unclosed by the Spirit of God, not by the growth of the body. He possessed the faculty of understanding who was moved by the feeling of exultation.
THEOPHYL; Unless indeed Zacharias be supposed to have wished as soon as he was able to speak, to proclaim for their instruction who were present, the future gifts of his son, which he had long before learnt from the Angel. Let the Arians however hear that our Lord Christ, whom John went before prophesying of Him, Zacharias calls "the Most High," as it is said in the Psalms, A man was as born in her, and the most highest has established her.
CHRYS. But as kings have their companions in arms, who stand nearest to them, so John, who was the friend of the Bridegroom, went before Him nigh to His coming. And this is what follows, For you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways. For some prophets have preached the mystery of Christ at a distance, but he preached it nearer the time, that he might both see Christ, and declare Him to others.
GREG. But all they who by preaching cleanse the hearts of their hearers from the filth of their sins, prepare a way for the coming of wisdom into the heart.
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THEOPHYL. For the manner in which the forerunner prepared the way of the Lord he explains, adding, To give knowledge of salvation. The Lord Jesus is salvation, but the knowledge of salvation, i.e. of Christ, was given in John, who bore witness of Christ.
THEOPHYL; For as if desiring to explain the name of Jesus, i.e. the Savior, he frequently makes mention of salvation, but lest men should think it was a temporal salvation which was promised, he adds, for the forgiveness of sins.
THEOPHYL. For in no other way was He known to be God, but as having forgiven the sins of His people. For or it is of God alone to forgive sins.
THEOPHYL; But the Jews prefer not to receive Christ, but to wait for Antichrist; for they desire to be delivered not from the dominion of sin within, but from the yoke of man's bondage without.
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THEOPHYL. Because God has forgiven our sins not for our works sake, but through His mercy, it is therefore fitly added, Through the tender mercy of our God.
CHRYS. Which mercy we find not indeed by our own seeking, but God from on high has appeared to us, as it follows; Whereby (i.e. by His tender mercy) the day-spring from on high (that is, Christ) has visited us, taking upon Him our flesh.
GREEK EX. Abiding on high yet present upon the earth, suffering neither division nor limitation, which thing neither can our understanding embrace, nor any power of words express.
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THEOPHYL; Christ is rightly called the Day-spring, because He has disclosed to us the rising of the true light, as it follows; To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
CHRYS. By darkness he means not material darkness, but error or and distance from the faith, or ungodliness. BASIL; For in thick darkness were the Gentile people sitting, who were sunk deep in idolatry, until the rising light dispersed the darkness, and spread abroad the brightness of truth.
GREG. But the shadow of death is taken to mean the forgetfulness of the mind. For as death causes that which it kills to be no longer in life, so whatever oblivion touches ceases to be in the memory. Hence the Jewish people who were forgetful of God are said to sit in the shadow of death. The shadow of death is taken also for the death of the flesh, because as that is the true death, by which the soul is separated from God, so that is the shadow of death by which the flesh is separated from the soul. Hence in the words of the martyrs it is said, the shadow of death has come over us. By the shadow of death also is represented the following of the devil, who is called Death, in the Revelations, because as a shadow is formed according to the quality of the body, so the actions of the wicked are expressed according to the manner of their following him.
CHRYS. He rightly says sitting, for we were not walking in darkness, but sitting down as having no hope of deliverance.
THEOPHYL. But not only does the Lord at His rising give light to those who sit in darkness, but he says something further as it follows, to direct our feet in the way of peace. The way of peace is the way of righteousness, to which He has directed our feet, i.e. the affections of our souls.
GREG. For we guide our steps in the way of peace, when we walk in that line of conduct wherein we depart not from the grace of our Maker.
AMBROSE; Mark also, in how few words Elisabeth prophesies, in how many Zacharias, and yet each spoke filled with the Holy Spirit; but this discipline is preserved, that women may study rather to learn what are the Divine commands than to teach them.
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80. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing to Israel.
THEOPHYL; The future preacher of repentance, that he might the more boldly reclaim his hearers from the allurements of the world, passes the first part of his life in the deserts. Hence it is said, And the child grew.
THEOPHYL. i.e. in bodily stature, and waxed strong in spirit, for together with his body at the same time his spiritual gift increased, and the workings of the Spirit were more and more manifested in him.
ORIGEN; Or he increased in spirit, remaining not in the same measure in which he had begun, but the Spirit was ever growing in him. His will ever tending to better things, was making its own advances, and his mind ever contemplating something more divine, while his memory was exercising itself, that it might lay up more and more things in its treasury, and more firmly retain them. But he adds, And he waxed strong. For human nature is weak, as we learn, the flesh is weak. It must therefore be made strong by the Spirit, for the Spirit is ready. Many wax strong in the flesh, but the wrestler of God must be strengthened by the Spirit that he may crush the wisdom of the flesh. He retires therefore to escape the noise of cities, and the thronging of the people. For it follows, And he was in the deserts. Where the air is purer, the sky more clear, and God a closer friend, that as the time had not yet arrived for his baptism and preaching, he might have leisure for praying, and might hold converse with the angels, calling upon God and fearing Him, saying, Behold, here am I.
THEOPHYL. Or, he was in the deserts that he might be brought up beyond the reach of the malice of the multitude, and not be afraid of man. For if he had been in the world, perchance he had been corrupted by the friendship and conversation of the world. And secondly, that he who was to preach Christ might also be esteemed trust-worthy. But he was hid in the desert until it pleased God to show him forth to the people of Israel, as it follows, till the day of his showing forth to Israel.
AMBROSE; And rightly is the time noted during which the prophet was in the womb, in order that the presence of Mary might not be passed over, while they are silent about the time of his childhood, because being strengthened in the womb by the presence of the Mother of the Lord, he knew not the struggles of childhood.
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THEOPHYL; The Son of God, about to be born in the flesh, as by His birth of a virgin He showed that the grace of virginity was most pleasing in His sight, is therefore begotten in the most peaceful time of the world, because He taught men to seek peace, and condescends to visit those who follow it. But there could be no greater sign of peace than for the whole world to be brought together under one taxing, while its ruler Augustus reigned with so great peace for the twelve years, about the time of our Lord's nativity, that war having been quelled throughout the whole world, there seemed to be a literal fulfillment of the Prophet's prediction, They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, &c.
GREEK EX. Christ is born also at a time when the princes of Judah had failed, and the kingdom was transferred to Roman governors, to whom the Jews paid tribute; and then was fulfilled the, prophecy, saying, There shall not fail a leader from Judah, nor a prince from between his feet, until he shall come who is to be sent. And now when Caesar Augustus was in the 42nd year of his reign, there went forth an edict from him that all the world should be taxed for the payment of tribute, the management of which he committed to a certain Cyrinus whom he made governor of Judea and Syria;
and so it follows, This taxing was first made, &c.
THEOPHYL; St. Luke points out, that this taxing was either the first of those which comprehended the whole world, for before this very many parts of the earth are often mentioned as having been taxed; or first began at that time when Cyrinus was sent into Syria.
AMBROSE; He has rightly added the name of the governor, to mark the course of time. For if the names of the Consuls are affixed to the tables of prices, how much more ought the time to be noted down, of that event which was the redemption of all men?
THEOPHYL; Now the registration of property was so appointed by Divine guidance, that every one was ordered to go into his own country, as it follows, And they all went to be taxed, every one to his own city. Which so came to pass, in order that the Lord, conceived in one place, born in another, might the more easily escape the fury of the crafty Herod.
Hence it follows: Now Joseph also went up from Galilee.
CHRYS. It was the Lord who directed Augustus to give this edict, that he might minister to the coming of the Only-begotten; for it was this edict that brought Christ's mother into her country as the prophets had foretold, namely, to Bethlehem of Judea, according to the word, to a city of David, which is called Bethlehem.
GREEK EX. Now he added, a city of David, that he might declare that the promise made by God to David, namely, that from the fruit of his loins there should go before him a king for ever, was already fulfilled. Whence it follows, Because he was of the house and lineage of David. But since Joseph was of t e family of David, it pleased the Evangelist to make known also that the Virgin herself was of the same family, because the Divine law enjoined marriages between those of the same line;
and therefore it follows, With Mary his espoused wife.
CYRIL; It is said that she was espoused, to imply that nothing more than espousals preceded the conception; for it was not by man's seed that the Holy Virgin conceived.
GREG. But the registering of the whole world when our Lord was about to be born was mystical; for He appeared in the flesh Who should write down the names of His own elect in eternity.
AMBROSE; There is described a secular registration, implied a spiritual, to be laid before the King not of earth but of Heaven; a registering of faith: a census of souls. For the old census of the Synagogue was abolished, a new census of the Church was preparing. And to decide that the census was not of Augustus, but of Christ, the whole world is ordered to be registered. For who could demand the registration of the whole world but He who had dominion over it, for the earth is not of Augustus, but the earth is the Lord's?
THEOPHYL; And He most perfectly fulfilled what the name Augustus signifies, in that He was both desirous and able to increase His own.
THEOPHYL. Because it was fit also that at Christ's coming the worship of many Gods should cease, and one God only be worshipped, one king is described as ruling the world.
ORIGEN; To those who attentively consider it, there seems to be expressed a kind of sacrament, in its being necessary that Christ should be put down in the registration of the whole world; in order that His name being written with all, He might sanctify all, and being placed in the census with the whole world, He might impart to the world the communion of Himself.
THEOPHYL; As at that time in the reign of Augustus and under the governorship of Cyrinus, every one went to his own city to make returns of his property; so now when Christ reigns through His teachers (the governors of the Church) ought we to make returns of righteousness.
AMBROSE; This was then the first public enrollment of souls to the Lord, to Whom all enroll themselves not at the voice of the crier, but of the Prophet, who says, O clap your hands, all you people. But in order that men might know that the taxing was just, there came up to it Joseph and Mary, the just man and the virgin. He who kept the word and she who obeyed it.
THEOPHYL; Our city and country is the resting-place of the blessed, to which we ought to be traveling with daily increasing virtues. But day by day does Holy Church wait upon her Teacher, and going up from the course of worldly business (which the name of Galilee signifies) to the city of Judah, i.e. the city of confession and praise, make returns of her devotion to the Eternal King. She, after the example of the blessed Virgin Mary, a Virgin has conceived us of the Spirit. Though espoused to another, she is made fruitful by Him; and while visibly joined to the Pontiff who is placed over her, is invisibly filled with the graces of the Spirit. And hence Joseph is well interpreted increased, declaring by his very name, that the earnestness of the master speaking is of no avail, except he receive increasing help from above, that he may be heard.
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AMBROSE; St. Luke has briefly explained the manner, time, and also the place in which Christ was born in the flesh; the manner, that is, in which the espoused has conceived, a virgin has born offspring.
GREG. NYSS. Though coming in the form of man, yet not in every thing is He subject to the laws of man's nature; for while His being born of a woman, tells of human nature; virginity becoming capable of childbirth betokens something above man. Of Him then His mother's burden was light, the birth immaculate, the delivery without pain, the nativity without defilement, neither beginning from wanton desire, nor brought to pass with sorrow. For as she who by her guilt engrafted death into our nature, was condemned to bring forth in trouble, it was meet that she who brought life into the world should accomplish her delivery with joy. But through a virgin's purity He makes His passage into mortal life at a time in which the darkness was beginning to fail, and the vast expanse of night to fade away before the exceeding brightness of the light. For the death of sin had brought an end of wickedness which from henceforth tends to nothing by reason of the presence of the true light which has illuminated the whole world with the rays of the Gospel.
THEOPHYL; He condescended to become incarnate at that time, that after His birth He might be enrolled in Caesar's taxing, and in order to bring liberty to us might Himself become subject to slavery. It was well also that our Lord was born at Bethlehem, not only as a mark of the royal crown, but on account of the sacrament of the name.
GREG. Bethlehem is by interpretation the house of c bread. For it is the Lord Himself who says, I am the bread of life which came down from heaven. The place therefore where the Lord was born was before called the house of bread, because it was there that He was to appear in His fleshly nature who should refresh the souls of the elect with spiritual fullness.
THEOPHYL; But down to the very end of time, the Lord ceases not to be conceived at Nazareth, to be born at Bethlehem, whenever any of His hearers taking of the flour of the word makes himself a house of eternal bread. Daily in the Virgin's womb, i.e. in the mind of believers, Christ is conceived by faith, born by baptism. It follows, and she brought forth her firstborn son.
JEROME; From this Helvidius strives to prove that no one can be called firstborn who has not brothers, as he is called only-begotten who is the only son of his parents. But we thus determine the matter. Every only-begotten is firstborn, not every firstborn is only-begotten. We say not that he is first-begotten whom others follow, but before whom there is no one; (otherwise, supposing there is no firstborn but who has brothers following him, there are then no firstlings due to the priests as long as there are no others begotten;) lest perchance when no birth follows afterward, there should be an only-begotten and not a firstborn.
THEOPHYL; He is also only-begotten in the substance of His divinity, firstborn in the taking upon Himself humanity, firstborn in grace, only begotten in nature.
JEROME; Now here was no midwife, no tender anxiety of women; she wrapped the Child up in swaddling clothes, herself both mother and midwife.
THEOPHYL; He who clothes the whole world with its varied beauty, is wrapped up in common linen, that we might be able to receive the best robe; He by Whom all things are made, is folded both hands and feet, that our hands might be raised up for every good work, and our feet directed in the way of peace.
GREEK EX. Oh the wonderful straitening and banishment which He underwent, Who holds the whole world in His hands! From the very beginning He seeks for poverty, and ennobles it in His own person.
CHRYS. Surely if He had so willed it, He might have come moving the heavens, making the earth to shake, and shooting forth His thunderbolts; but such was not the way of His going forth; His desire was not to destroy, but to save; and to trample upon human pride from its very birth, therefore He is not only man, but a poor man, and has chosen a poor mother, who had not even a cradle where she might lay her new born Child; as it follows, and she laid him in the manger.
THEOPHYL; He is confined in the narrow space of a rude manger, whose seat is the heavens, that He may give us ample room in the joys of His heavenly kingdom. He Who is the bread of Angels is laid down in a manger, that He might feast us, as it were the sacred animals, with the bread of His flesh.
CYRIL; He finds man in his corrupt affections become like the beasts that perish, and therefore He is laid in the manger, in the place of food, that we changing the life of beasts, might be brought to the knowledge that befits man, partaking not of hay, but of the heavenly bread, the life-giving body.
THEOPHYL; He who sits at His Father's right hand, finds no room in an inn, that He might prepare for us in His Father's house many mansions; He is born not in His Father's house, but in an inn and by the way side, because through the mystery of the incarnation He was made the way by which to bring us to our country, (where we shall enjoy the truth and the life.)
GREG. And that He might show that on account of the human form which He took upon Him, He was born as in a strange country, not according to His power but according to His nature.
AMBROSE; On your account then am I weak, in you am I strong. On your account am I poor, in you am I rich. Consider not what you see, but acknowledge that you are redeemed. I owe more, O Lord Jesus, to Your sufferings that I am redeemed, than to Your works that I am created. It were no advantage to be born, had it not advantaged me to be redeemed also.
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AMBROSE; Observe with what care God builds up our faith. An Angel teaches Mary; an Angel teaches Joseph; an Angel the shepherds also, of whom it is said, And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field.
CHRYS. To Joseph the Angel appeared in a dream, as to one who might be easily brought to believe, but to the shepherds in visible shape as to men of a ruder nature. But the Angel went not to Jerusalem, sought not for Scribes and Pharisees, (for they were corrupt and tormented with envy.) But these were simple men living in the ancient practices of Moses and the Patriarchs. There is a certain road which leads by innocence to Philosophy.
THEOPHYL; No where; in the whole course of the Old Testament do we find that the Angels who so constantly appear to the Patriarchs, came in the day time. This privilege was rightly kept for this time, when there arose in the darkness a light to them that were s true of heart. Hence it follows, and the glory of God shone round about them. He is sent forth from the womb, but He shines from heaven. He lies in a common inn, but He lives in celestial light.
GREEK EX. They were alarmed at the miracle, as it follows, And they were afraid, &c.
But the Angel dispels their rising fears. He not only soothes their terrors, but pours gladness into their hearts; for it follows, For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, &c. not to the Jewish people only, but to all. The cause of their joy is declared; the new and wonderful birth is made manifest by the very names.
It follows, For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. The first of these, i.e. the Savior, has reference to the action, the third, i.e. the Lord, to the dignity of the person.
CYRIL; But that which is in the middle, namely, Christ, has reference to the adoration, and signifies not the nature, but the compound substance of two natures. For on Christ our Savior we confess the anointing to have been performed, not however figuratively, (as formerly on kings by the oil,) and as if by prophetic grace, nor for the accomplishment of any work, as it is said in Isaiah, Thus said the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus; who although he was an idolater was said to be anointed, that he might by the decree of Heaven take possession of the whole province of Babylon; but the Savior as man in the form of a servant, was anointed by the Holy Spirit as God He Himself by His Holy Spirit anoints those that believe in Him.
GREEK EX. He marks the time of our Lord's nativity, when he says, Today, and the place when he adds In the city of David; and the signs thereof when it follows And there shall be a sign, &c. Now the Angels bring tidings to the shepherds of the Chief Shepherd,as of a lamb discovered and brought up in a cave.
THEOPHYL; The infancy of the Savior was impressed upon us, both by frequent heraldings of Angels and testimonies of Evangelists, that we might be the more deeply penetrated in our hearts by what has been done for us. And we may observe, that the sign given us of the newborn Savior was, that He would be found not clothed in Tyrian purple, but wrapped in poor swaddling clothes, not laying on gilded couches, but in a manger.
MAXIMUS; But if perhaps the swaddling clothes are mean in your eyes, admire the Angels singing praises together If you despises" tile manger, raise your eyes a little, and behold the new star in heaven proclaiming to the world the Lord's nativity. If you believe the mean things, believe also the mighty. If you dispute about those which betoken His lowliness, look with reverence on what is high and heavenly.
GREG. It was in a mystery that the angel appeared to the shepherds while they were watching, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, implying that they are thought worthy above the rest to see sublime things who take a watchful care of their faithful flocks; and while they themselves are piously watching over them, the Divine grace shines widely round about them.
THEOPHYL; For in a mystery, those shepherds, and their flocks, signify all teachers and guides of faithful souls. The night in which they were keeping watch over their flocks, indicates the dangerous temptations from which they never cease to keep themselves, and those placed under their care. Well also at the birth of our Lord do shepherds watch over their flocks; for He was born who says, I am the good Shepherd: but the time also was at hand in which the same Shepherd was to recall His scattered sheep to the pastures of life.
ORIGEN; But if we would rise to a more hidden meaning, I should say, that there were certain shepherd angels, who direct the affairs of men, and while each one of them was keeping his watch, an angel came at the birth of the Lord, and announced to the shepherds that the true Shepherd had arisen. For Angels before the coming of the Savior could bring little help to those entrusted to them, for scarcely did one single Gentile believe in God. But now whole nations come to the faith of Jesus.
Golden Chain 9167