A READING FROM THE SERMONS OF ST PETER CHRYSOLOGUS
The distinguishing marks of the Godhead were always clearly present in the very mystery of the Lord’s incarnation. But today’s feast especially shows and reveals that God came into a human body so that mortal man, who is continually in confusion and darkness, should not lose through ignorance what he merited to have and possess through grace alone.
He who willed to be born for us, was unwilling that we should be ignorant of him. Hence, he chose this way of revelation so that the great mystery of love would not become the occasion of a great mistake.
Today the Magus, the wise man, finds weeping in a crib him whom he sought for shining in the stars. Today the wise man reveres clearly revealed in swaddling clothes him whom he had long patiently awaited unseen in the heavens.
Today the wise man ponders in profound amazement over what he sees there: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, and him whom the whole universe cannot contain, confined in a tiny body. And immediately on seeing, he professes with mystical gifts that he believes and does not argue: he acknowledges God with frankincense, the King with gold, with myrrh the mortal one destined to die. So it is that the Gentile, who was last, has become first: for then the belief of the nations began from the faith of Magi.
Today Christ entered the riverbed of the Jordan, to wash away the world’s sin: John himself bears witness that he came for this: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Today the servant holds the Lord, man holds God, John holds Christ: holds him, as about to receive, not to grant forgiveness.
Today as the prophet says: The Lord’s voice is on the waters. What voice? This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Today the Holy Spirit floats over the waters in the form of a dove, so that by this sign it might be known that the world’s universal shipwreck has ceased, as the dove had announced to Noah that the world’s flood had subsided. Nor does this dove carry a branch of the old olive, but it pours the whole richness of the olive on the head of the author of the new anointing, in order to fulfil what the prophet foretold: Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above other kings.
Today Christ gives the beginnings of the signs from heaven, when he changes water into wine. But water was to be changed into the mystery of the blood, so that Christ, from the goblet of his Body, might give pure draughts to those who drink, to fulfil that saying of the prophet: My chalice which inebriates me, how good it is.
St Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 160, from The Divine Office Vol. I