Although he came to us as a little child, what he brought is not little, what he conferred on us is not little. If you ask what he brought: first of all, he brought mercy, according to which, as the Apostle testifies, he saved us. Nor does this benefit only those he found when he came; it is a spring which can never be exhausted. Christ the Lord is for us a spring in which we are washed–as it is written, he has loved us and washed us from our sins. Of course this is not water’s only use. Not only does it wash away filth but it also quenches thirst. Happy will they be, says the Sage, who will linger in Wisdom and meditate on Righteousness; and a little later, She will give him the water of saving Wisdom to drink. Yes, saving Wisdom, because the wisdom of the flesh is death and the wisdom of the world is even hostile to God.
Only the Wisdom that comes from God is saving; it is modest and peaceable. The wisdom of the flesh is sensual, not modest; the wisdom of the world is turbulent, not peaceable. The Wisdom that comes from God is indeed first modest, seeking not its own interests but those of Jesus Christ, so that people do not carry out their own wills but ponder what is the will of God. Then it is peaceable, not full of itself, but yielding instead to another’s counsel and judgment.
We have the waters of forgiveness from the spring of grace to water the plants of good works. Let us look for boiling water, the waters of zeal, to cook our nourishment. These waters soften and cook our affections, and they come bubbling up from the spring of love. The spring of life, he promises us after this age.
From Bernard of Clairvaux’s First Sermon on the Birth of the Lord: On the Five Springs, CF 51, pp 102-105