But love does such things: Guardini on Christmas

But love does such things: Guardini on Christmas

“For while all things were in quiet silence and the night was in the midst of her course, thy almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne.” Book of Wisdom

The Greeks want rational wisdom; the moderns want what is certain (clear and distinct) and useful. But faith is a response to God’s revelation. The Incarnation, (God-becomes-man) as a mystery of faith, is folly and a scandal. Faith takes us beyond reason and beyond what is calculable in a worldly scheme or project. For through faith we touch what is absolute and eternal. We must persist in an incomprehensible mystery. Pascal reminds us that “the heart has reasons of which reason knows nothing.” takes a Pascalian approach to the mystery of the Incarnation and thereby helps us to behold the manger on day —

The journey of God from the everlasting into the transitory, this stride across the border into history, is something no intellect can altogether grasp. The mind might even oppose the apparent fortuitous, human aspect of this interpretation with its own purer idea of godliness; yet precisely here lies hidden the kernel of Christianity. Before such an unheard of thought the intellect bogs down. Once at this point a friend gave me a clue that helped my understanding more than any measure of bare reason. He said “But love does such things.” Again and again those words have come to the rescue when the mind has stopped short at some intellectual impasse. Not that they explain anything to the intelligence; they arouse the heart, enabling it to feel its way into the secrecy of God. The mystery is not understood, but it does move nearer, and the danger of “scandal” disappears.

None of the great things in human life springs from the intellect; every one of them issues from the heart and its love. If even human love has its own reasoning, comprehensible only to the heart that is open to it, how much truer must this be of God’s love! When it is the depth and power of God that stirs, is there anything of which love is incapable? The glory of it is so overwhelming that to all who do not accept love as an absolute turning point of departure, its manifestation must seem the most senseless folly. . . .

What we have just attempted to grasp in the obscurity of divine action now presents itself to us in visible form. At first a child like any other, it cries, is hungry, sleeps, and yet is “the Word become flesh.” It cannot be said that God “inhabits” this infant, however gloriously; or that heaven has set its seal upon him, so that he must pursue it, suffer for it in a manner sublimely excelling all other contacts between God and man; this child is God in essence and in being.

If an inner protest should arise here, give it room. It is not good to suppress anything; if we try to, it only goes underground, becomes toxic, and reappears later in a far more obnoxious form. Does anyone object to the whole idea of God-become-man? Is he willing to accept the Incarnation only as a profound and beautiful allegory, never as literal truth? If doubt can establish a foothold anywhere in our faith, it is here. Then we must be patient and reverent, approaching the central mystery of Christianity with calm, expectant, prayerful attention; one day its sense will be revealed to us. In the meantime, let us remember the directive, “But love does such things.”

From The Lord pp. 14-19


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