A reading from a Sermon by pope St Leo the Great
O Christian, be aware of your nobility
This is the day our Saviour was born: what a joy for us, my beloved! This is no season for sadness, this, the birthday of Life – the Life which annihilates the fear of death, and engenders joy, promising, as it does, immortality.
Nobody is an outsider to this happiness. The same cause for joy is common to all, for as our Lord found nobody free from guilt when he came to bring an end to death and to sin, so he came with redemption for all. Let the saint rejoice, for he hastens to his crown; let the sinner be filled with joy, for pardon is offered him; let the Gentile be emboldened, for he is called to life.
When the designated time had come, which God in his deep and impenetrable plan had fixed upon, God’s Son took the nature of man upon himself in order to reconcile man to his Creator. Thus would the devil, the father of death, be himself overcome by that self-same human nature which he had overcome.
The angels therefore exult at the birth of the Lord: they sing ‘Glory to God in high heaven’; they announce ‘Peace on earth for people on whom his favour rests’. For they behold the heavenly Jerusalem being constructed from out of all the peoples on earth. How greatly ought mere human beings rejoice at this mysterious undertaking of divine love, when the angels on high thrill so much at it!
My beloved, let us offer thanksgiving to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit. In the great mercy with which he loved us, he had pity on us, and ‘in giving life to Christ, gave life to us too, when we were dead through sin,’ so that in him we might be a new creation, a new work of his hands.
Let us then be quit of the old self and the habits that went with it. Sharers now in the birth of Christ, let us break with the deeds of the flesh.
O Christian, beware of your nobility – it is God’s own nature that you share: do not then, by an ignoble life, fall back into your former baseness. Think of the Head, think of the Body of which you are a member. Recall that you have been rescued from the power of darkness, and have been transferred to the light of God, the kingdom of God.
Through the sacrament of baptism you have been made a temple of the Holy Spirit; do not, by evil deeds, drive so great an indweller away from you, submitting yourself once more to the slavery of the devil. For you were bought at the price of Christ’s blood.