St. Ambrose – Bk 2 – Chapter 11

Baptism-of-Christ-xx-Francesco-AlbanThe purpose and healing effects of the Incarnation. The profitableness of faith, whereby we know that Christ bore all infirmities for our sakes—Christ, Whose Godhead revealed Itself in His Passion; whence we understand that the mission of the Son of God entailed no subservience, which belief we need not fear lest it displease the Father, Who declares Himself to be well pleased in His Son.

89. Let us likewise deal kindly, let us persuade our adversaries of that which is to their profit, let us worship and lament before the Lord our Maker. For we would not overthrow, but rather heal; we lay no ambush for them, but warn them as in duty bound.Kindliness often bends those whom neither force nor argument will avail to overcome. Again, our Lord cured with oil and wine the man who, going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among thieves; having forborne to treat him with the harsh remedies of theLaw or the sternness of Prophecy.

90. To Him, therefore, let all come who would be made whole. Let them receive the medicine which He has brought down from His Father and made in heaven, preparing it of the juices of those celestial fruits that wither not. This is of no earthly growth, fornature nowhere possesses this compound. Of wondrous purpose took He our flesh, to the end that He might show that the law of the flesh had been subjected to the law of the mind. He was incarnate, that He, the Teacher of men, might overcome as man.

91. Of what profit would it have been to me, had He, as God, bared the arm of His power, and only displayed His Godheadinviolate? Why should He take human nature upon Him, but to suffer Himself to be tempted under the conditions of my natureand my weakness? It was right that He should be tempted, that He should suffer with me, to the end that I might know how to conquer when tempted, how to escape when hard pressed. He overcame by force of continence, of contempt of riches, of faith; He trampled upon ambition, fled from intemperance, bade wantonness be far from Him.

92. This medicine Peter beheld, and left His nets, that is to say, the instruments and security of gain, renouncing the lust of the flesh as a leaky ship, that receives the bilge, as it were, of multitudinous passions. Truly a mighty remedy, that not only removed the scar of an old wound, but even cut the root and source of passion. O Faith, richer than all treasure-houses; O excellent remedy, healing our wounds and sins!

93. Let us bethink ourselves of the profitableness of right belief. It is profitable to me to know that for my sake Christ bore my infirmities, submitted to the affections of my body, that for me, that is to say, for every man, He was made sin, and a curse, that for me and in me was He humbled and made subject, that for me He is the Lamb, the Vine, the Rock, the Servant, the Son of an handmaid, knowing not the day of judgment, for my sake ignorant of the day and the hour.

94. For how could He, Who has made days and times, be ignorant of the day? How could He not know the day, Who has declared both the season of Judgment to come, and the cause? A curse, then, He was made not in respect of His Godhead, but of His flesh; for it is written: Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree. In and after the flesh, therefore, He hung, and for this causeHe, Who bore our curses, became a curse. He wept that thou, man, might not weep long. He endured insult, that you might not grieve over the wrong done to you.

95. A glorious remedy— to have consolation of Christ! For He bore these things with surpassing patience for our sakes— and we forsooth cannot bear them with common patience for the glory of His Name! Who may not learn to forgive, when assailed, seeing that Christ, even on the Cross, prayed—yea, for them that persecuted Him? See you not that those weaknesses, as you please to call them, of Christ’s are your strength? Why question Him in the matter of remedies for us? His tears wash us, His weeping cleanses us—and there is strength in this doubt, at least, that if you begin to doubt, you will despair. The greater the insult, the greater is the gratitude due.

96. Even in the very hour of mockery and insult, acknowledge His Godhead. He hung upon the Cross, and all the elements did Him homage. Matthew 27:51 The sun withdrew his rays, the daylight vanished, darkness came down and covered the land, the earth trembled; yet He Who hung there trembled not. What was it that these signs betokened, but reverence for the Creator? That He hangs upon the Cross— this, thou Arian, you regard, that He gives the kingdom of God— this, you regard not. That He tasted of death, you read, but that He also invited the robber into paradise, Luke 23:43 to this you give no heed. You gaze at the womenweeping by the tomb, but not upon the angels keeping watch by it. John 20:11-12 What He said, you read, what He did, thou dost not read. You say that the Lord said to the Canaanitish woman: I am not sent, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,Matthew 15:24 thou dost not say that He did what He was besought by her to do.

97. You should hereby understand that His being sent means not that He was compelled, at the command of another, but that He acted, of free will, according to His own judgment, otherwise thou dost accuse Him of despising His Father. For if, according to your expounding, Christ had come into Jewry, as one executing the Father’s commands, to relieve the inhabitants of Jewry, and none besides, and yet before that was accomplished, set free the Canaanitish woman’s daughter from her complaint, surely He was not only the executor of another’s instruction, but was free to exercise His own judgment. But where there is freedom to actas one will, there can be no transgressing the terms of one’s mission.

98. Fear not that the Son’s act displeased the Father, seeing that the Son Himself says: Whatsoever things are His goodpleasure, I do always, and The works that I do, He Himself does. How, then, could the Father be displeased with that which He Himself did through the Son? For it is One God, Who, as it is written, has justified circumcision in consequence of faith, anduncircumcision through faith. Romans 3:30

99. Read all the Scriptures, mark all diligently, you will then find that Christ so manifested Himself that God might be discerned in man. Misunderstand not maliciously the Son’s exultation in the Father, when you hear the Father declaring His pleasure in the Son.

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