Saint Bernard constantly places before us the major events of the life of Christ, and writes: “He was incomprehensible and inaccessible, invisible and completely unthinkable. Now he wishes to be comprehended, wishes to be seen, wishes to be thought about. How, do you ask? As lying in the manger, resting in the Virgin’s lap, preaching on the mountain, praying through the night, or hanging on the cross, growing pale in death, free among the dead and ruling in hell, and also as rising on the third day, showing the apostles the place of the nails, the signs of victory, and finally as ascending over heaven’s secrets in their sight.” Nat BVM 11.
Bernard tells us that the invisible God wished to be seen in the flesh and to live among humans as a human, so that he might recapture all the affections of humans and little by little, lead them to spiritual love. Christ Jesus uses our attraction to his human existence to take our disordered affections and desires and reconfigure them around himself. And as a person advances in love and contemplation, he is more and more present to God. “A person is present to God to the extent that the person loves him,” says Bernard. This will lead to the heights of the intimacy with the divine Bridegroom in unity of spirit.
Filippino Lippi, Apparition of the Virgin Mary to Saint Bernard, 1480, oil on panel, 83 x 77 in., Badia, Florence. Excerpts from Father Timothy's homily for the Solemnity.