The greatest and most profound mystery of the Christian faith is the Incarnation of the Son of God. The eternal God becomes man and does not cease to be God. In the first centuries, the Eastern Fathers accepted the mystery of the Incarnation with profound faith and great piety. Enraptured by this mystery, they had nothing but words of wonder for the most wonderful love of God, the sacrifice, humility and poverty of the Messiah.
As we read the Eastern Fathers of the Church we see that they first directed their attention to the greatness of the mystery. Basil the Great teaches us how to receive the mystery of the Incarnation: “The actual, first nativity of Christ must be venerated in silence”. He suggested that we should not even permit our minds to investigate this mystery since there is no way that our human minds can conceive of how God could become man. Gregory the Theologian, Athanasius the Great, Ephrem the Syrian and others all stress how the Incarnation is absolutely beyond human comprehension.
Athanasius exclaimed this in one of his Christmas sermons: “Who will not speak out, who will not wonder at the Lord’s coming? In heaven he is a freeman, on earth he is a hireling; above he is rich, below he is poor. In heaven he is on a divine Throne, on earth he is in a cave; in heaven he is in the unfathomable bosom of the Father, on earth he is in the small soulless shelter and manger. Who will not express wonder at the great things above and the small swaddling clothes below! He who loosens is bound; he who nourishes is nourished”.
When you think about what we celebrate on this feast, that God became a human person, you have to be amazed. Only God, who we describe as all powerful, could accomplish such a task – the infinite, became finite.
Of course this immediate question comes to mind: Why did God choose to become man? Perhaps the simplest answer to this question is: Because He loved mankind, His creation, so much that He wanted to personally demonstrate to mankind how to live in order to become all that God envisioned when He created humanity. God reveled to us creatures how to live in order to experience the fullness of life.The fullness of life is truly experienced when we come to know ourselves as children of God and the living temples of His Spirit.