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What We Considered Unworthy, God Made Glorious

The Ascension, by Benjamin West

As God [Jesus] was never without those graces which He received as man, and by that means communicated to our nature; His union with which will by no means affect His Divinity, so as to give it any occasion of soliciting such graces. On the contrary, it highly glorified the nature it assumed, and very richly benefitted the race of man.

As the Word of God, and as being in the form of God, His creatures always adored Him; and, although He has become man, even the man Christ Jesus, He still exercises an absolute dominion over the whole creation. All bend their knees at this Holy Name, and acknowledge that the Incarnation and cruel death of the Son of God, instead of derogating from, do rather conduce to the glory of God the Father.

For it is indeed to the glory of the Father, that man, created and afterwards lost, should be found again; and should be snatched from death and given life once more, and should become the very temple of God.

How highly is our nature dignified, since the Son of the Most High God is adored Incarnate! Angels and Archangels and all the heavenly host now sing those praises to the Blessed Jesus, which before they had always sung to God the Word.

And so after this, it will not be a matter of such great surprise to the heavenly host to see such bodies as ours, of the same nature and form as our Lord’s, admitted and welcomed into those glorious mansions; as otherwise we may suppose it must have been. For this would not have happened unless He, who is in the form of God, had taken upon Himself the form of a servant, and had been pleased to humble Himself to suffer the cruel death of the Cross.

Behold, then, what men considered unworthy of the Wisdom of God, namely, the infamy of the death of the Cross, has become of all things the most glorious! For the certainty of our resurrection entirely hinges upon this; and hence it is, according to the prediction of the Prophet, not Israel only, but the whole Gentile world renounce their idols, and acknowledge the true God, the Father of Christ Jesus. The impostures of evil spirits are all defeated, and the true God alone is worshipped in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For since, when our Lord is believed on as the Son of God in the nature of man, and by the name of Jesus, and the knowledge of the Father is conveyed to us through Him, it is plain, as has been shown, that not the Word, as such, but our nature receives additional graces and privileges. For it follows from His having a body of the same nature as ours, that we are become the temples and the sons of God, so that even in us the Lord is now worshipped, and they who behold us may cry out in the words of the Apostle, that “God is in us of a truth” (1 Cor. 14:25).

As S. John also says in his Gospel, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (S. John 1:12); and again, in his Epistle, “Hereby we know that He abideth in us by His Spirit which He hath given us” (1 S. John 3:24). And this is an instance of His great goodness towards us that He has thus exalted our human nature by personally uniting it with His Divine nature. This He condescended to do for our sakes, that Almighty God, from whom all our good things do come, should surpass all other manifestations of His favour in enlarging the object of them by the addition of a part for the redemption of the whole.

Our Saviour humbled Himself exceedingly when He took upon Him our frail unworthy nature. He assumed the form of a servant in making that flesh, which was enslaved to sin, a part of Himself. He received no advantage from doing this. It was impossible for the Word of God to do so, whose being is incapable of any improvement. Our nature gained all the benefit, for “He is the Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (S. John 1:9).

Get April’s free bookThe Navarre Bible: Saint Luke’s Gospel.

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This excerpt is adapted from Athanasius of Alexandria, The Orations of S. Athanasius against the Arians (London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden, & Welsh, 1893), 56–57.

Novation on Christ’s Humility: 4 Reflections for Good Friday

Passion of Jesus; sculpture of Crucifixion of Jesus observing Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus (known as Pieta). National Gallery of Slovenia. 14th and 15th century.

[Jesus Christ], who though he was in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of men, and found in guise as a man; he humbled himself, being made obedient even so far as to death, and that the death of the cross: wherefore, also, God exalted him exceedingly, and gave him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord in the glory of God the Father.” — Phil 2. 6–11

Being in the Form of God

“Who though he was in the form of God,” he says. If Christ were man only, He would have been described as “in the image of God,” not “in the form of God”; for we know that man was made in the image, not in the form, of God. Who, then, is this, Who was made “in the form of God,” this—angel? Why, we do not read of the form of God even in connection with angels; there is but One, this Son of God, incomparable and noble above all, the Word of God, Who in all His works is like unto His Father, Himself working as His Father works—He alone is, as we have asserted, in the form of God the Father. Rightly has He been declared to be in the form of God, seeing that He is above all, and holds divine authority over every creature, and is God after the pattern of the Father; yet this is by gift from God, Who is peculiarly His Father, that He might be both God and Lord of all, and God, according to the form of God the Father, begotten and brought forth from Him.

“He thought it not Robbery”

He, then, though “He was in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God.” For although He bore in mind that He was God, of God the Father, He never compared or ranked Himself with God the Father, mindful that He was of His Father, and that He holds the place He does, because the Father had given it to Him. Hence it is that both before and after He took upon Him the body of flesh, and again, after His resurrection, He rendered, and does render, all obedience, in all things, to the Father. All this proves that He never thought of His Divinity as a kind of usurpation, that He should make Himself equal to God the Father; on the contrary, He was obedient and subject to His Father’s rule and will in all things, content even to take upon Himself the form of a slave—that is, to be made the Man of Whom we know—and the substance of flesh and body, which He took upon Himself at His birth, as it came to Him from the slavery of the sins of His forefathers according to His manhood.

“He emptied Himself”

It was then that He emptied Himself, not disdaining to take upon Himself the human frailty that His new condition of existence involved. For if He had been born as a man only, He would not have been emptied thereby. A man is made the greater, not emptied, by being born; he begins to be something which could not be his when he did not exist, so that he is not emptied, as we said, but rather is made the greater and the richer. It was not so with Christ. He is emptied by the very fact of His birth, in taking upon Him the form of a slave. How, then, is He man only? If He were, it would have been more true to say that He was enriched by the incident of His birth, not emptied; as a matter of fact, the authority of the Divine Word, condescending for a time to take upon Himself manhood, and laying aside the full exercise of His powers, lowers and deposes Himself, for so long as He bears the manhood which He has taken upon Himself. He empties Himself, so long as He stoops to bear insults and abuse, listens to blasphemies, and submits to indignities.

The “Name above Every Name”

Yet at once His humility bears noble fruit; for He received “the name which is above every name”—the name which assuredly we can only understand to be the name of God. For it belongs to God alone to be above all things; it follows that that name, which is above every name, is His only, Who is above all things. For the name which is above every name is the name of God; this name must then of necessity belong to Him, Who, though He had been in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God. Indeed, if Christ were not God, every knee of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, would not bow at His name; things visible and invisible, and the whole creation, would not be in subjection and subservience to a man. It would remember that it existed before man.

The Conclusion from the above Language

To sum up. Christ is said to be “in the form of God.” He is shown to have emptied Himself, even so far as to be born according to the flesh; He is declared to have received from the Father the name which is above every name; it is shown that every knee, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, bend and bow down at His name, and, strange as it may seem, it is asserted that this redounds to the glory of God the Father. It follows, that He is man, not only because He was made obedient even so far as to suffer death, and that the death of the cross, but not man only, seeing that from all these considerations, which shout aloud the Divinity of Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ is proved, in despite of the wishes of the heretics, to be God as well as man.

Get April’s free bookThe Navarre Bible: Saint Luke’s Gospel.

This excerpt is adapted from Novatian, The Treatise of Novatian on the Trinity, trans. Herbert Moore, Translations of Christian Literature: Series II: Latin Texts (London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; The Macmillan Company, 1919), 103.

Painting of the Week: Christ on the Cross

Rembrandt’s painting of the Crucifixion emphasizes the divine drama in this pivotal moment of our Faith.

In Rembrandt’s representation, Christ’s body is stretched out on the cross. The background appears empty, underscoring his abandonment by the disciples and his being forsaken by the Father. The sign above his head reads, “This is the King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38), which Roman soldiers intended to humiliate him. [Read more…]

What We Read This Month: Highlights from the Verbum Team

Every month members of the Verbum team share what they read and watched in Verbum and around the web.

Angela Lott, Verbum and Logos Library Specialist:

As part of my New Year’s resolution, I’m doing a study on the kingdom of God. Currently I am working through Scott Hahn’s The Kingdom of God as Liturgical Empire: A Theological Commentary on 1-2 Chronicles. I enjoy the way Hahn makes complicated concepts easy to understand. He gives a wealth of insight into the worldview of the author of Chronicles, which assists us in better understanding biblical covenants and New Testament concepts. [Read more…]

The Windhover, by Gerard Manley Hopkins (Verbum Sacred Poem of the Week)

Welcome to Verbum’s new series on sacred poetry. Each week for the next several months we’re featuring entries from respected poets on divine subjects.

Today’s poem is “The Windhover.” All poetry is meant to be read aloud, and this poem especially benefits from it, due to the density of alliteration and unique rhyme scheme. [Read more…]

The Full but Neglected Backpack

This is a guest post from author and apologist Steve Ray.

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A Christian can be compared to a man on a journey.

As soon as the traveler crested the hill, he knew he was in dire straits. He was lost and desperately weary from hours of trudging down dusty paths, and his tongue was swollen with thirst. The leather pack his mother had given him grew heavier by the mile. He was nowhere near his destination. [Read more…]

Painting of the Week: Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes

This grim piece from Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is called Giuditta e Oloferne, or “Judith Beheading Holofernes.” It depicts Judith, a young widow, decapitating Holofernes after pretending to ally herself with the enemy.

The deuterocanonical book of Judith describes Judith seducing Holofernes (the leader of the enemy troops), getting him drunk, then taking her sword and beheading him. [Read more…]

Painting of the Week: Caravaggio’s Crucifixion of St. Peter

This piece from Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is called Crocifissione di san Pietro, or “The Crucifixion of Saint Peter.” It depicts the martyrdom of St. Peter described in the Acts of Peter. [Read more…]

Painting of the Week: The Calling of Saint Matthew

This piece from Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio is called Vocazione di san Matteo, or “The Calling of Saint Matthew.” It depicts the moment described in Mark 2:13–14 when Jesus inspires Matthew to follow him.

There is some debate about which man in the painting is Matthew, but most believe it to the bearded one at the table. [Read more…]

How to Get Verbum 8: All Your Options Clearly Explained

The new version of Verbum is here. It’s redesigned in a big way to be faster and easier to use than ever.

Whether you’ve never owned Verbum or have been with us from the start, here are all your options for how to get Verbum 8, clearly explained. I’ll also explain why some customers choose one option over another.

You can also call us at 888-875-9491 to get more personalized help choosing the right option for you. [Read more…]

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