Today’s post features a distinct patristic flavour. The second century bishop Irenaeus is widely regarded as the first Christian theologian following the apostolic era. Drawing on Paul’s image in Ephesians of all things being summed up in Christ, described in today’s reading as the first born of creation and new creation, Irenaeus argued for a unified vision of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ, who in the Incarnation sums up in himself the entire history of salvation, humanity and all creation: “He, as the eternal King, recapitulates all things in himself”. Where Adam failed, Jesus obeyed with trust and humility. This theme is continued in the Byzantine Hymn of the Only-Begotten Son, credited to the fourth century Alexandrian bishop Athanasius: the Word of God became flesh to renew the bearers of God’s image. Of course, this isn’t a peculiarity of the early church; it is the theological foundation of Christmas, the basis of our salvation.
As we reach the mid-way point of the Christmas season, we offer you these ancient and modern reflections on the incarnation of God the Son so that we might become sons of God.