Thursday, January 22, 2009

life

Saint Augustine (354-430), bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and doctor of the Church Sermons on the First Letter of Saint John, 1,1 (SC 75, p.113) (©Augustinian Heritage Institute)

Life was manifested in the flesh «What was from the beginning, what we have heard, and what we have seen with our eyes, and what our hands have touched of the Word of life» (1Jn,1). Who touches the Word with his hands apart from the fact that «the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us» (1Jn 1:14)? But this Word which was made flesh, so that it might be touched by our hands, began to be flesh from the Virgin Mary, yet it didn't begin to be the Word then, because [John] said, «What was from the beginning...Perhaps someone will understand this about «the Word of life» as though it were a way of speaking about Christ, not as though it was the very body of Christ that was touched by our hands. See what follows: «And life itself was manifested» (1Jn 1:2). Christ, then, is the Word of life. And how was life manifested (for it was from the beginning)? Yet it wasn't manifested to human beings, but it was manifested to angels, who saw it and who fed on it as their bread. But what does scripture say? «Man has eaten the bread of angels» (Ps 78[77]:25). Life itself was manifested in flesh so that, by being manifested, the thing which can be seen by the heart alone may also be seen by the eyes, so that it may heal hearts. For the Word is seen by the heart alone, but flesh is also seen by bodily eyes. We were able to see flesh, but we were unable to see the Word. The Word was made flesh, which we would be able to see, so that what was in us whereby we might see the Word would be healed.