As we embark on the season of Advent, a time of anticipation and reflection, the profound words of St. Augustine of Hippo echo through the corridors of history, reminding us of the awe-inspiring mystery at the heart of Christmas:
Man’s maker was made man, that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast; that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey; that the Truth might be accused of false witness, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.
In these eloquent and contemplative words, St. Augustine captures the paradoxical essence of the Incarnation—the eternal and infinite Creator taking on the limitations of human flesh. It is a concept that defies reason and transcends our understanding, inviting us to dive into the depths of divine love and humility.
The Radical Humility of God
“Man’s maker was made man” speaks to the radical humility of God, who, in His infinite wisdom, chose to enter the world not as a triumphant king or a powerful ruler but as a defenceless and dependent child. The Ruler of the stars willingly became subject to the constraints of human existence, experiencing the fragility of infancy and the tender care of a mother’s embrace.
Embracing Human Weaknesses
“That the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey” reveals the paradoxical nature of Christ’s earthly sojourn. The sustainer of all things allowed Himself to experience the very needs He created in His creatures. The Bread of Life, the Fountain of living water, the Light of the world—these eternal attributes took on the limitations of human existence, highlighting the depth of Christ’s identification with our humanity.
Confronting Injustice and Suffering
“That the Truth might be accused of false witness, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood” exposes the injustice and suffering that the Incarnate Word willingly embraced. The Truth Himself, accused falsely; the Teacher, beaten and mocked; the Foundation, nailed to a cross—these images confront us with the gravity of Christ’s sacrifice. The Incarnation was not just about God becoming human; it was about God entering into the brokenness and sin of the world, taking upon Himself the consequences of our rebellion.
Love Triumphs Over Sin and Death
“That Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die” pierces the heart with the ultimate paradox of the Incarnation. The omnipotent became vulnerable, the divine Healer bore wounds, and Life itself faced death. This apparent contradiction reveals the depth of God’s love—a love so intense that it would lead the Creator to endure the very death that sin had introduced into the world, overcoming it with the promise of resurrection and eternal Life.
As we journey through Advent, let us meditate on the mystery of the Incarnation. In the presence of a newborn child, we encounter the boundless love of a God who willingly entered into our human experience. The piercing paradox of “Man’s maker was made man” invites us to contemplate the depths of God’s humility, love, and sacrifice—a love that found its fullest expression in the manger of Bethlehem and the cross of Calvary. May our hearts be stirred with gratitude and awe as we prepare to celebrate our Savior’s birth, who revealed the magnitude of His redeeming love in becoming one of us.
The lyrics of Phil Wickham’s “Manger Throne” also come to mind at this moment:
You could have stepped into creation
With fire for all to see
Brought every tribe and nation to their knees
Arriving with the host of heaven
In royal robe and crown
The rulers of the earth all bowing down
But You chose meekness over majesty
Wrapped Your power in humanity
You could have marched in all Your glory
Into the heart of Rome
Showed them splendor like they’d never known
But You wrote a better story
In humble Bethlehem
Creator in the arms of common men
You will die for our redemption
And You’ll rise so we can live
If Jesus came to us once, He will come again at the appointed time. This is the hope that Advent reminds us of, every year. Let’s prioritize the true essence of the season. Amid the festivities, let’s intentionally keep Jesus at the center. Through prayer, reflection on Scripture, acts of kindness, and community worship, let’s prepare our hearts for the celebration of His birth.