Of His Fullness

And what means that, saith he, “Of his fullness have all we received”? (John 1:16) For to this we must for a while direct our discourse. He possesseth not, says he, the gift by participation, but is Himself, very Fountain and very Root of all good, very Life, and very Light, and very Truth, not retaining within Himself the riches of His good things, but overflowing with them unto all others, and after the overflowing remaining full, in nothing diminished by supplying others, but streaming ever forth, and imparting to others a share of these blessings, He remains in sameness of perfection.

~John Chrysostom, Homilies on St. John, xiv.2 in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. xiv.

A thought as we approach the Nativity of Our Lord: from the point of view of the Incarnate Word, who emptied himself and took on the form of a slave, there is a great deal of risk. There is the poverty of the stable and the manger. There is Herod and the slaughter of the Holy Innocents. There is, ultimately, the Cross.

And yet, from another point of view, God’s fullness is so superabundant that it can in fact risk all–even poverty, precarity, and death–without being the least bit diminished. In fact, the fullness of God is brought to perfection in resurrection–precisely on the other side of death–or in the Eucharist as paschal sacrament in which the sign, without ceasing to be a sign, is consumed by and identical to the Signified.

But what we have here is infinite risk and infinite abundance, coming together in a fully human life, which is nonetheless the humanity proper to the Word.

The nearest analogy among God’s creatures, is Mary’s “yes” at the Annunciation, which is itself empowered by the presence of the Spirit and the grace of her Son. It is amazing that a mere creature, however exalted and spotless, can take such risk. How great her faith must be in the abundance and goodness of God.

Here, we see the faith that risks all and gives all.

And this points us to God, the very Fountain and very Root of all good.

The Rev. Bill Carroll serves as Rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Athens, Ohio. His parish blog is at here

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