10 Dec

Homo Factus Est

Archbishop Justin Welby has taken to writing in Radio Times where he says, “Of course, no gift, however pricey, can truly reflect the gift God gave the world in sending Jesus to share our suffering on the cross, bear the weight of our wrongdoing and offer us the hope of life.”

“Share our suffering on the cross”? Which cross is the Archbishop on then?

Well, forgive him a clumsy locution, a slip of the pen, a slip of the brain. We all do it. But there are profound matters behind Welby’s muddle.

Principally this: the differences between ourselves and God are not negligible but greater than we can imagine. Christmas is that time of year when leftie clerics offer us their sermons about God’s condescension in his willingness to be born “into poverty.”

As if the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity’s kenotic act in the Incarnation were the more remarkable for that he was born in a stable in Bethlehem rather, say, than as Mayor of Clacton.

In fact Jesus was not born “into poverty.” Joseph was a respectable craftsman of the middle class and the lowly place of Jesus’ birth was a temporary inconvenience owing to the census.

There are even more important considerations than this.

St John’s Gospel opens with the shocking announcement that the Word became flesh. The Greek word is not soma (body) but sarx (flesh) which means something much lower down in the order of things; something very nearly despicable. This terrible miracle cannot be apprehended, let alone comprehended, by the naked intelligence. That’s why it is accompanied by signs in the heavens: the star, the angelic chorus. The closest feel we can ever have for it is in those nativity stories in St Matthew and St Luke, in St John’s mystical prologue in the first fourteen verses of his Gospel – and in a sublime musical composition such as Bach’s A Christmas Oratorio.

How else to describe the event in which the sublime Creator of the starry heavens and of all that there is became something that is the next thing to filth, for our sake? Then the sinless one suffered the consequences of sin. This is a world away from the chummy bathos in such phrases as “shared our suffering.”

There is no suffering like unto the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.

The miracle is, as C.H. Sisson said, “That he came here at all, where no one ever came voluntarily before.”

Et Incarnatus Est.

You are here to kneel.