St. Anselm’s Meditation on Human Redemption

From Sr. Benedicta’s translation:

You did not assume human nature to conceal what was known of yourself, but to reveal what was not known. You declared yourself to be true God; by what you did you showed yourself to be true man. The thing was itself a mystery, not made mysterious. It was not done like this so that it might be hidden, but so that it might be accomplished in the way ordained. It was not secret to deceive anyone, but secret so that it might be carried out. If it is said to be mysterious, this is only to say that it was not revealed to everyone. The truth does not show itself to all, but it refuses itself to no one. So, Lord, you did not do this to deceive anyone, or so that anyone might deceive himself, but only so that you might carry out your work, in all things established in the truth. So let anyone who is deceived about your truth complain of his own falsehood, not of yours. (p. 231)

This passage is worth reading in Advent. The origins of this festal season, from now until Epiphany (January 6) or Candlemas (February 2) depending on your reckoning, are in its identity as the Theophany; to this day, the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates only Theophany/Epiphany in January, although the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant traditions have developed Christmas and Advent over the centuries.

The main purpose of Advent, of Christmas, of Epiphany, is that we are looking towards God’s revelation of Himself in the flesh. He is most known and best known through and in Jesus Christ, who was born an infant lowly and an infant holy in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago. This light of revelation to the nations came that all people, Jewish, Greek, barbarian, might be saved. And so, meditating upon Christ’s assuming of nature and declaration of himself as true God is a worthy meditation for this season of revelation and expectation.

We must remember, as well, that Christ comes to us to save us, not simply to reveal God to us. And he saves us through his atoning death on the Cross:

See, Christian soul, here is the strength of your salvation, here is the cause of your freedom, here is the price of your redemption. You were a bond-slave and by this man you are free. By him you are brought back from exile, lost, you are restored, dead, you are raised. Chew this, bite it, suck it, let your heart swallow it, when your mouth receives the body and blood of your Redeemer. Make it in this life your daily bread, your food, your way-bread, for through this and not otherwise than through this, will you remain in Christ, and Christ in you, and your joy will be full. (pp. 234-235)

In the second passage, St. Anselm is using language traditionally associated with the Eucharist, and not unintentionally, I reckon. But he is speaking about Christ’s atoning death on the Cross. This is the truth we are to meditate upon, or, as he says so vividly, ‘chew … bite … suck … swallow …’ Keep Christ and the glorious redemption of the human race ever before your eyes, and you will abide with him. This is salvation.

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