Dec 24, 2005

Sermons For Christmas - I

Gospel: Luke 2:1-14 Year A

In those days Caesar Augustus published a decree ordering a census of the whole world. And so Joseph went from the town of Nazareth to Galilee.

Commentary: Sermon 193, 1-2

When the gospel was read, we heard the voices of angels announcing to the shepherds that the Lord Jesus Christ was born of the virgin: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will. Festive voices, congratulating not just one woman whose womb had been delivered of offspring, but the whole human race, for whom the virgin had borne the savior. It was right, you see, and altogether fitting, that the one who carried in her womb the Lord of heaven and earth, and after giving birth to him remained virginally intact, should be hailed in her childbearing, not by a pack of women with solemn human rites, but by angels with glorious divine praises. Let us too then say, and say with all the jubilation we can muster - because we aren't announcing his birth to shepherds watching their flocks, but celebrating his birthday with his sheep; let us too say, I repeat, with faithful hearts and loyal voices, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.

Let us take as close and shrewd a look as we can at these divine words, these praises of God, this exultant joy of the angels, and meditate on it in faith and hope and charity. For in accordance with what we believe and hope and desire, we too will be glory to God in the highest, when with the spiritual body rising again we are snatched up to meet Christ in the clouds, providing that meanwhile, as long as we are on earth, we pursue peace with good will. But all who would have life and love to see good days, let them curb their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; let them turn aside from evil and do good, and in this way be people of good will. And let them seek peace and pursue it, because on earth peace to people of good will.

But if you say, man, "Look, to will is available to me, but to perform the good I do not find in myself," and if you delight in the law of God according to the inner self, but see another law in your members fighting back against the law of your mind, and taking you prisoner to the law of sin which is in your members, persist in your good will, and cry out what follows: Wretched man that I am, who will set me free from the body of this death? The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

He, you see, after the war in which the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, so that it is not the things you wish that you do, is peace on earth to people of good will, because he is our peace, who has made the two into one. So let good will persist in standing firm against evil desires, and persist in imploring the help of God's grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. The law in the members of the flesh is fighting back against it, and here it is, already being taken prisoner. Let it implore help and not trust in its own powers; and even if weary and in distress, let it at least not be too proud to confess. One will be at hand, don't forget, who said to people that already, as he could see, believed in him, If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will recognize the truth, and the truth will set you free. Truth will be at hand to set you free from the body of his death. That, for sure, is why Truth, whose birthday we are celebrating, has sprung from the earth, in order to be peace on earth to people of good will.
S. Aurelius Augustinus

Rotelle, John E., Augustine on the Sunday Gospel, Augustinian Press, 1998, pp. 33-34.

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