Athanasius: On Why We Celebrate Christmas

Georges de La Tour, "The Adoration of the Shepherds" (1645)

We were the cause of his becoming flesh. For our salvation he loved us so much as to appear and be born in human body . . . No one else but the Savior himself, who in the beginning made everything out of nothing, could bring the corrupted to incorruption; no one else but the Image of the Father could recreate men in God’s image; no one else but the Lord Jesus Christ who is Life itself, could make the mortal immortal; no one else but the Word, who orders everything and is alone the true and only-begotten Son of the Father, could teach men about the Father and destroy idolatry. Since the debt owed by all men had to be paid (for all men had to die), he came among us. After he had demonstrated his deity by his works, he offered his sacrifice on behalf of all and surrendered his temple [i.e. body] to death in the place of all men. He did this to free men from the guilt of the first sin and to prove himself more powerful than death, showing his own body incorruptible, as a first-fruit of the resurrection of all . . . Two miracles happened at once: the death of all men was accomplished in the Lord’s body, and death and corruption were destroyed because of the Word who was united with it. By death immortality has reached all and by the Word becoming man the universal providence and its creator and leader, the very Word of God, has been made known. For he became human that we might become divine; he revealed himself in a body that we might understand the unseen Father; he endured men’s insults that we might inherit immortality.

The Incarnation of the Word (4, 20, 54)

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