God Descends into Dust

“Majesty compressed himself to join to our dust the best thing he had, which is himself.  God and dust, majesty and weakness, utter lowliness and utter sublimity  were united in a single person.  Nothing is more sublime than God, nothing is lower than dust–and yet God descended into dust with great condescension and dust ascended into God with great honor, so that whatever God did in it, the dust is believed to have done, and whatever is the dust bore, God is said to have borne in it by a mystery as ineffable as it is incomprehensible.” Bernard of Clairvaux, “On the Eve of the Lord’s Birth, Sermon Three” in Sermons for Advent and the Christmas Season  (Kalamazoo: Cistercian, 2007), p. 66.

Bernard of Clairvaux, the famous twelfth-century Cistercian preacher, describes the Incarnation of Christ as the union of God and dust.  God descends into the dust of humanity to redeem the dust itself. Notice, the dust ascended into God and received credit for whatever God-in-dust did.  Previous to this section Bernard described how God created human beings from the dust of the ground then endowed them with sensation and reason.  


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