Fr. Paul D. Scalia: A Proportioned Extravagance

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*Image: Adoration of the Shepherds by Bernardo Strozzi, ca. 1615 [Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland]. Strozzi (1581-1644) was known as il Cappuccino because he’s was a Franciscan Capuchin friar. The shepherds adoring the Christ Child was a favorite theme of St. Francis.

By Fr. Paul D. Scalia, The Catholic Thing, Dec. 24, 2022

Fr. Paul Scalia is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, VA, where he serves as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy and Pastor of Saint James in Falls Church. He is the author of That Nothing May Be Lost: Reflections on Catholic Doctrine and Devotion and the editor of Sermons in Times of Crisis: Twelve Homilies to Stir Your Soul.

Christmas, when the Virgin-Mother gives birth to the God-Man, is a feast of paradoxes. One beautiful paradox at the center of this celebration is the union of proportion and extravagance, of what is needed and what is undeserved. The birth of Christ is both proportioned to our need and extravagant in its offering.

The Incarnation is a great example of that scholastic maxim, Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver. (Quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur.) By becoming incarnate of the Virgin Mary, the Son of God proportions himself to our “mode” so that we can receive him. In his mercy, he doesn’t demand that we become capable of him but makes himself capable of being received by us. True mercy always has this quality of being fitted, tailor-made for those in need, neither too high for them to reach nor too hard for them to accept. …

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