Fourth Sunday in Advent
Dearly beloved, if we study diligently the history of the creation of our race, we shall find that man was made in the image of God, to the end that he might grow into his Maker’s likeness. This is the natural dignity of human nature, that in us, as in a mirror, there can be a reflection of the goodness of the divine nature. To help us attain this dignity, we are daily offered the grace of our Saviour, for as in the first Adam all men are fallen, so in the second Adam all men can be raised up again.
The cause of our restoration is the mercy of God, and nothing else. We could not love him unless he had first loved us, and scattered the darkness of our ignorance by the light of his truth. This the Lord promised by Isaiah, where he saith : I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not ; I will lead them in paths they that they have not known : I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight : these things will I do unto them and not forsake them. And again : I was found of them that sought me not ; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
From the Apostle John we learn how this was fulfilled : We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son. And again : we love him, because he first loved us. God, by loving us, reneweth his image in us. And that he may find in us the likeness of his goodness, he giveth us grace to do his works. To this end he lighteth the soul as though it were a candle. And so it is that he doth enkindle in our hearts the fire of his holy charity, in order that we may love both him and whatsoever he loveth.