Flesh Heals You

From Tractates on John 2.16 (ca. 416)

In that the word was made flesh and dwelled among us, his birth became a kind of ointment to anoint the eyes of our hearts, that through his humanity we might discern his majesty.  He healed our eyes; and what follows? “And we beheld His glory.” No one could see his glory who was not healed by the humility of His flesh.

Why were we not able to see? Consider, then, dearly beloved, and see what I say. There had dashed into man’s eye, as it were, dust, earth; it had wounded the eye, and it could not see the light: that wounded eye is anointed; by earth it was wounded, and earth is applied to it for healing. For all ointments and medicines are derived from the earth alone. By dust you were blinded, and by dust you are healed: flesh, then, had wounded you, flesh heals you.

“The Word was made flesh;” that Physician made for you an ointment. And as he came by flesh to extinguish the vices of the flesh, and by death to slay death; therefore this took place in you, that as “the Word became flesh,” you can say, “And we beheld his glory.”

What sort of glory? Such as he became as Son of man? That was his humility, not his glory. But to what is the sight of man brought when cured by means of flesh? “We beheld his glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

St. Augustine (354-430) was a theologian and philosopher who served as Bishop of Hippo Regius in North Africa. He was a voluminous author, whose writings about God’s grace, the Sacraments, and the Church have been profoundly influential in the development of Western Christianity. The Tractates on John are based on exegetical sermons that he preached during his episcopal ministry, and are adapted for contemporary readers. His feast day is August 26.


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