Monday, December 28, 2009

Four Calling Birds

On this the fourth day of Christmas* I think about what might seem the sheer credulity required to accept our faith. Truly God confounds the Wise and we preach that which is to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness.

God takes flesh in the womb of the Virgin and is born a babe in Bethlehem. Wholly man and wholly the Eternal Word. What is a baby Who Is, like? Was he aware of himself? He by Whom all things were made suckles at the breast. Were the courses of the Universe maintained as effortlessly and unconsiously as the breathing of a sleeping child? It is a Mystery.

St. Ephraim the Syrian had this to say about the Mystery:

"Our Savior, Both God and Man" from A Spiritual Psalter by St. Ephraim the Syrian, 4th c.:

We confess one and the same individual as perfect God and perfect man. He is God the Word Which was flesh.

For if He was not flesh, why was Mary chosen? And if He is not God, whom does Gabriel call Lord?

If He was not flesh, who was laid in a manger? And if He is not God, whom did the angels who came down from heaven glorify? If He was not flesh, who was wrapped in swaddling clothes, And if He is not God, in whose honor did the star appear?

If He was not flesh, whom did Simeon hold in his arms? And if He is God, to whom did Simeon say, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace?

If He was not flesh, whom did Joseph take when he fled into Egypt? And if He is not God, who fulfilled the prophecy: Out of Egypt have I called my Son?

If He was not flesh, whom did John baptize? And if He is not God, to whom did the Father say: This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased?

If He was not flesh, who hungered in the desert? And if He is not God, unto whom did the angels come and minister?

If He was not flesh, who was invited to the marriage in Cana of Galilee? And if He is not God, who turned the water into wine?

If He was not flesh, who took the loaves in the desert? And if He is not God, who fed the five thousand men and their women and children with five loaves and two fish?

If He was not flesh, who slept in the ship? And if He is not God, who rebuked the waves and the sea?

If He was not flesh, with whom did Simon the Pharisee sit at meat? And if He is not God, who forgave the sins of the harlot?

If He was not flesh, who wore a man’s garment? And if He is not God, who healed the woman with the issue of blood when she touched His garment?

If He was not flesh, who spat on the ground and made clay? And if He is not God, who gave sight to the eyes of the blind man with the clay?

If He was not flesh, who wept at Lazarus’ grave? And if He is not God, who commanded him to come forth out of the grave four days after his death?

If He was not flesh, whom did the Jews arrest in the garden? And if He is not God, who cast them to the ground with the words: I am He?

If He was not flesh, who was judged before Pilate? And if He is not God, who frightened Pilate’s wife in a dream?

If He was not flesh, whose garments were stripped from Him and parted by the soldiers? And if He is not God, why was the sun darkened upon His crucifixion?

If He was not flesh, who was crucified on the cross? And if He is not God, who shook the foundation of the earth?

If He was not flesh, whose hands and feet were nailed to the cross? And if He is not God, how did it happen that the veil of the temple was rent in twain, the rocks were rent, and the graves were opened?

If He was not flesh, who hung on the cross between the two thieves? And if He is not God, how could He say to the thief: Today thou shalt be with me in paradise?

If He was not flesh, who cried out, and gave up the ghost? And if He is not God, whose cry caused many bodies of the saints which slept to arise?

If He was not flesh, whom did the women see laid in the grave? And if He is not God, about whom did the angel say to them: He is arisen, He is not here?

If He was not flesh, whom did Thomas touch when he put his hands into the prints of the nails? And if He is not God, who entered through the doors that were shut?

If He was not flesh, who ate at the sea of Tiberias? And if He is not God, on whose orders were the nets filled with fishes?

If He was not flesh, whom did the apostles see carried up into heaven? And if He is not God, who ascended to the joyful cries of the angels, and to whom did the Father proclaim: sit at My right hand?

If He is not God and Man then, indeed, our salvation is false, and false are the pronouncements of the prophets.


++++++++++++

Credo . . .

I believe . . .


*Some people claim that the Four Calling Birds in the song are the four evangelists, and that the song was a sort of underground catechism for Roman Catholics during some of the anti-Catholic purges in Tudor England.

1 Comments:

Blogger Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Excellent, these verses of Saint Ephraim! You have found more than I did, when I posted some of them last year at Christmas (http://cost-of-discipleship.blogspot.com/2008/12/god-man.html).

I hope you and your family are doing well. Though we have been out of touch for some time, I do not cease to remember you all. What can God have in store for us next? Whatever it is, we know it will always be true and what is best for us!

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

9:27 PM  

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