"He has made you in his image that you might in your person make the invisible Creator present on earth"
Toward the end of the 4th century in Imola, located in Northern Italy, a baby boy was born who would be called by the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, to serve Him as a deacon, priest and then the Bishop of His Catholic Church.
Peter was raised under the tutelage of the good Bishop of Imola, Cornelius, who also ordained him as a deacon of the Church. It was Pope Sixtus who later raised him to the Office of Bishop in 424 and gave him the Diocese of Ravenna. So wise was Bishop Peter’s counsel that he was sought after by the head of State, the Emperor Valentian III as well as the successor to Sixtus, Pope St. Leo the Great.
Peter had a natural way with words. However, even more than that, his natural gifts were supernaturally transformed by the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life. He regularly refuted those in his own day who had succumbed to the lies of false teaching. His goal was motivated by Charity; he wanted to win them back to the true faith, as he did with Eutyches, and to protect the members of the Church from the infection caused by the false teaching of heresy.
Peter was such a great preacher of the truths of the Catholic faith that his reputation spread far and wide among the faithful. They gave him the name “Chrysologus” or “man of golden words”. Unlike some other great preachers in the long company of heroes in Christian history, this preacher also kept his sermons short. He said he did not want to tire his listeners. His model is needed in our own day on many fronts. His brevity is to be commended for those who preach and teach, including this writer.
However, what truly distinguished this marvelous hero of the faith was the content of his homilies and teachings. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and deeply in love with Jesus Christ. That is evident in the few sermons we still have of this “Golden Speaker”, St. Peter Chrysologus. Here is a sample from a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop, entitled “The Sacrament of Christ's incarnation”
“A virgin conceived, bore a son, and yet remained a virgin. This is no common occurrence, but a sign; no reason here, but God’s power, for he is the cause, and not nature. It is a special event, not shared by others; it is divine, not human. Christ’s birth was not necessity, but an expression of omnipotence, a sacrament of piety for the redemption of men. He who made man without generation from pure clay made man again and was born from a pure body. The hand that assumed clay to make our flesh deigned to assume a body for our salvation. That the Creator is in his creature and God is in the flesh brings dignity to man without dishonor to him who made him.
Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God? Why render yourself such dishonor when you are honored by him? Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made? Was not this entire visible universe made for your dwelling? It was for you that the light dispelled the overshadowing gloom; for your sake was the night regulated and the day measured, and for you were the heavens embellished with the varying brilliance of the sun, the moon and the stars.
The earth was adorned with flowers, groves and fruit; and the constant marvelous variety of lovely living things was created in the air, the fields, and the seas for you, lest sad solitude destroy the joy of God’s new creation. And the Creator still works to devise things that can add to your glory. He has made you in his image that you might in your person make the invisible Creator present on earth; he has made you his legate, so that the vast empire of the world might have the Lord’s representative. Then in his mercy God assumed what he made in you; he wanted now to be truly manifest in man, just as he had wished to be revealed in man as in an image. Now he would be in reality what he had submitted to be in symbol.
And so Christ is born that by his birth he might restore our nature. He became a child, was fed, and grew that he might inaugurate the one perfect age to remain for ever as he had created it. He supports man that man might no longer fall. And the creature he had formed of earth he now makes heavenly; and what he had endowed with a human soul he now vivifies to become a heavenly spirit. In this way he fully raised man to God, and left in him neither sin, nor death, nor travail, nor pain, nor anything earthly, with the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, for all the ages of eternity. Amen.”
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