Even as it is disregarded on earth, it is highly honored in heaven, and indeed a thousand times more. Suppose an angel from heaven praised you and your works, would you not consider it greater than the praise and honor of all the world? You would feel you could not bear enough humbleness and contempt for it. Now, what sort of honor is it that all the angels in heaven cannot contain themselves for joy, that they burst forth giving poor shepherds in the field a chance to hear them, that they preach, praise, sing, and pour out their joy beyond measure? Can the joy and honor of all the people of Bethlehem, indeed that of all kings and lords on the earth, be compared to this joy and honor? It is nothing but filth and abomination, of which nobody likes to think when he contemplates this joy and honor!
Behold, how richly God honors those who are despised and apt to be despised of men! Here you see where his eyes are turned: into the depths and low places, as it is written: “He sits above the Cherubim and looks into the depth or the abyss.” Then, too, the angels could not find any princes or potentates, but only unlearned lay people and the lowliest of all the folk on earth. Could they not have addressed the high priests and the learned men of Jerusalem? After all, they talk a lot about God and the angels. No, poor shepherds, who were nothing on earth, had to be worthy to receive such great grace and honor in heaven. How completely does God spurn that which is high! And we only strive madly and frantically after vain heights, lest we be honored in heaven; again and again we step out of God’s horizon, so that he might not see us in the depths, the only place where he looks.
Let this be enough of an incentive for contemplation on the part of simple people. Let each one strive by himself! All words are pure fire, they warm the heart, provided a person keeps them there, as we read in Jeremiah 23[:29]: “My words are like fire.” As we see, it is the nature of the divine words to teach us to understand God and his works; their aim is to show us that this life is nothing. Since he does not live in accordance with this life and does not own goods, honor, and power of this temporal life, he has no regard for them and he does not speak of them, but teaches only the reverse, and acts “foolishly”: he looks at that from which the world turns away, teaches those things from which the world flees, picks up what the world casts aside. And although we do not like going along with such actions of God and do not wish to give up goods, honor, and life in this manner, yet that is how it must be. For it cannot be changed; God teaches and acts in no other manner. We must take our direction from him; he will not take his direction from us. Also, whoever disregards his word, his deed—the nativity—and his consolation, certainly has no good sign of salvation in him. How could God have demonstrated more pleasantly that he is gracious to all those who are lowly and despised on earth than by this lowly birth, from which the angels derive joy and which he reveals to none but the poor shepherds? （AE 52:13-14)(Sermons)
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