In the Lord’s advent, which we are celebrating, if I fix my gaze on the person of the One who is coming, I fail to grasp the wondrousness of his majesty. If I fix my attention on those to whom he comes, I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of his condescension. Surely the angels are astonished by the strange situation–seeing below themselves the One whom above them they ever adore, and now manifestly both ascending and descending to the Son of Man.
If I consider why he comes, I embrace–insofar as I can–the inestimable breadth of his love. If I think about how he comes, I am struck by the exaltation of the human condition. The Lord and Creator of humanity comes indeed: he comes to human beings, he comes for human beings, he comes as a human being.
Nothing that is in him requires fuller measure from us. We have only to mention our wickedness and he will justify us as a gift in order that his grace may be commended. He loves the soul which is unremittingly examining itself in his sight and candidly judging itself. This judgment he demands of us only for our own sakes, for if we judge ourselves we shall not be judged.
The wise person therefore is wary in all his deeds. He examines, scrutinizes and weighs everything. That person honors truth who truly acknowledges and humbly confesses oneself and one’s belongings at their true worth. Listen now to a clear declaration that judgment is demanded of you after righteousness: When you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, We are only unworthy servants. Clearly this is, in human terms, a worthy seat, a preparation for the Lord of majesty: to strive to observe the commandments of righteousness and always to regard ourself as unworthy and unprofitable.
Bernard of Clairvaux, Third Sermon for Advent