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116

Part One

460

The Word became flesh to make us

“partakers of the divine

nature”:

78

“For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of

God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into com-

munion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might

become a son of God.”

79

“For the Son of God became man so that

we might become God.”

80

“The only-begotten Son of God, wanting

to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he,

made man, might make men gods.”

81

II.

T

he

I

ncarnation

461

Taking up St. John’s expression, “TheWord became flesh,”

82

the Church calls “Incarnation” the fact that the Son of God assumed

a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn

cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ

Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count

equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied him-

self, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness

of men. And being found in human formhe humbled himself

and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

83

462

The

Letter to the Hebrews

refers to the same mystery:

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body

have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offer-

ings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Lo, I have

come to do your will, O God.’”

84

463

Belief in the true Incarnation of the Son of God is the distinc­

tive sign of Christian faith: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every

spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of

God.”

85

Such is the joyous conviction of the Church fromher begin­

ning whenever she sings “the mystery of our religion”: “He was

manifested in the flesh.”

86

78

2 Pet

1:4.

79 St. Irenaeus,

Adv. haeres.

3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939.

80 St. Athanasius,

De inc.,

54, 3: PG 25, 192B.

81 St. Thomas Aquinas,

Opusc.

57: 1-4.

82

Jn

1:14.

83

Phil

2:5-8; cf.

LH,

Saturday, Canticle at Evening Prayer.

84

Heb

10:5-7, citing

Ps

40:6–8 ([7-9] LXX).

85

1 Jn

4:2.

86

1 Tim

3:16.

1265, 1391

1988

653, 661

449

90