Feast of the 20,000 Martyrs Burned in Nicomedia
THE BIRTHDAY of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on which Truth sprang forth from the earth and the procession of day from day extending even unto our time began, has, with the return of its anniversary, dawned upon us today as deserving of special celebration. “Let us be glad and rejoice therein” (Ps. 117.24), for the faith of Christians holds fast to the joy which the lowliness of such sublimity has offered to us, a joy far removed from the hearts of the wicked, since God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent and has revealed them to the little ones (cf. Mt. 11.25). Therefore, let the lowly hold fast to the lowliness of God so that, by means of this great help as by a beast of burden supporting their infirmity, they may come to the mountain of God. The wise and prudent, however, while they aim at the heights of God, do not put their trust in lowly things, but pass them by, and hence they fail to reach the heights. Vain and worthless, puffed up and elated, they have halted, as it were, on the wind-swept middle plain between heaven and earth. Wise and prudent in the rating of this world, they fall short of the standards set by Him who made this world. For, if they possessed the true wisdom which is of God and which is God, they would understand that flesh could have been assumed by God without the possibility of His having been changed into flesh; that He took upon Himself what He was not and remained what He was; that He came to us in the form of man and yet did not depart from His Father; that He preserved His divine nature while He appeared to us in our human nature; and, finally, that power derived from no earthly source was bestowed upon an infant’s body. The whole world is His work as He remains in the bosom of His Father; the miraculous child-bearing of a virgin is His work when He comes to us. In fact, His Virgin Mother has given testimony to His majesty in that she, a virgin before His conception, remained a virgin after child-birth; found with child, she was not made so by man; pregnant with man without man’s co-operation, she was more blessed and marvelous in that her fecundity was granted without loss of integrity. People prefer to consider so tremendous a miracle as fictional rather than factual.
—St Augustine of Hippo, On the Birthday of Our Lord Jesus Christ