One of my favorite quotes by St. Leo in his sermons on the Nativity comes from Sermon XXVII:
David’s LORD was made David’s Son
One might raise an eyebrow at this, imagine my sheepish grin and then dismiss the quote due to the fact that the one quoting it shares his name with that great Old Testament King. That notwithstanding, I would challenge anyone to find a more poetic, beautiful and succinct description of the Incarnation of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
It calls to mind Luke 20:41-44 when Christ answers the Sadducees’ challenge to the resurrection. He quotes Psalm 109 (110), which I reproduce here in its entirety so that we can all read it in context of St. Leo’s quote about David’s Lord:
The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand,
Until I make Your enemies the footstool of Your feet.”
The Lord shall send forth the rod of Your power from Zion,
And rule in the midst of Your enemies,
With You is the beginning in the day of Your power,
In the brightness of Your saints;
“I have begotten You from the womb before the morning star.”
The Lord swore and will not repent,
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord at Your right hand crushed kings in the day of His wrath;
He shall judge among the nations; He shall fill them with dead bodies;
He shall crush the heads of many on earth.
He shall drink from the brook on the way;
Therefore He shall raise His head high.
Personally, I am rendered speechless when I contemplate the fact that David’s Lord — the person that Psalm 109 (110) is all about — became David’s Son. There is an intimacy in these words that cannot be truly expressed in the word “incarnation.” The word “Lord” is a title for God. If the Lord is speaking to my Lord, the Father is speaking to the Son and both are God. Christ then becomes one of us, He becomes family. The phrase “God’s children” takes on a whole new meaning.
Psalm 109 (110) also reminds us that the Church equates the footstool with the Cross, as seen in the Entrance Hymn sung for the Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross on September 14:
Exalt the Lord our God, and worship the footstool of His feet; for He is holy. Save us, O Son of God, who was crucified in the flesh, we who sing to you: Alleluia!
The enemies are the devil, sin and death, and Christ was willing to go to the Cross and suffer death in order to defeat them. We are reminded that the Nativity means nothing without the Cross. The whole point of the Incarnation, of David’s Lord becoming David’s Son is the crucifixion. Without the Cross there is no resurrection, there is no ascension, there is no enthronement at the right hand of the Father.
I cannot help but ask myself in the words of David, “What is man that You remember him, or the son of man that you visit him?” (Psalm 8:5). That He has done all of this for me…for all of us…Thank you, God for sending us Your Son by allowing David’s Lord to become David’s Son. Amen.