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A Sermon of St Augustine on the Gospel 

(portion of Sermon I in Vol VI, NPNF (1st))
17. Consider when this was. When the Lord Jesus, as to His Human Nature, was twelve years old49 (for as to His Divine Nature He is before all times, and without time), He tarried behind them in the temple, and disputed with the elders, and they wondered at His doctrine; and His parents who were returning from Jerusalem sought Him among their company, among those, that is, who were journeying with them, and when they found Him not, they returned in trouble to Jerusalem, and found Him disputing in the temple with the elders, when He was, as I said, twelve years old. But what wonder? The Word of God is never silent, though it is not always heard. He is found then in the temple, and His mother saith to Him, "Why hast Thou thus dealt with us? Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing;" and He said, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's service?"50 This He said for that the Son of God was in the temple of God, for that temple was not Joseph's, but God's. See, says some one, "He did not allow that He was the Son of Joseph." Wait, brethren, with a little patience, because of the press of time, that it may be long enough for what I have to say. When Mary had said, "Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing," He answered, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's service?" for He would not be their Son in such a sense, as not to be understood to be also the Son of God. For the Son of God He was-ever the Son of God-Creator even of themselves who spake to Him; but the Son of Man in time; born of a Virgin without the operation of her husband, yet the Son of both parents. Whence prove we this? Already have we proved it by the words of Mary, "Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing." 

18. Now in the first place for the instruction of the women, our sisters, such saintly modesty of the Virgin Mary must not be passed over, brethren. She had given birth to Christ-the Angel had come to her, and said, "Behold, thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus.51 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest."52 She53 had been thought worthy to give birth to the Son of the Highest, yet was she most humble; nor did she put herself before her husband, even in the order of naming him, so as to say," I and Thy father," but she saith, "Thy father and I." She regarded not the high honour54 of her womb, but the order of wedlock did she regard, for Christ the humble would not have taught His mother to be proud. "Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing." Thy father and I, she saith, "for the husband is the head of the woman."55 How much less then ought other women to be proud! for Mary herself also is called a woman, not from the loss of virginity, but by a form of expression peculiar to her country; for of the Lord Jesus the Apostle also said, "made of a woman,"56 yet there is no interruption hence to the order and connection of our Creed57 wherein we confess "that He was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary." For as a virgin she conceived Him, as a virgin brought Him forth, and a virgin she continued; but all females they called "women,"58 by a peculiarity of the Hebrew tongue. Hear a most plain example of this. The first woman whom God made, having taken her out of the side of a man, was called a woman before she "knew" her husband, which we are told was not till after they went out of Paradise, for the Scripture saith, "He made her a woman."59 

19. The answer then of the Lord Jesus Christ, "I must be about My Father's service," does not in such sense declare God to be His Father, as to deny that Joseph was His father also; And whence prove we this? By the Scripture, which saith on this wise, "And He said unto them, Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's service; but they understood not what He spake to them: and when He went down with them, He came to Nazareth, and was subject to them."60 It did not say, "He was subject to His mother," or was "subject to her," but "He was subject to them." To whom was He subject? was it not to His parents? It was to both His parents that He was subject, by the same condescension by which He was the Son of Man. A little way back women received their precepts. Now let children receive theirs-to obey their parents, and to be subject to them. The world was subject unto Christ, and Christ was subject to His parents. 

20. You see then, brethren, that He did not say, "I must needs be about My Father's service," in any such sense as that we should understand Him thereby to have said, "You are not My parents." They were His parents in time, God was His Father eternally. They were the parents of the Son of Man-"He," the Father of His Word, and Wisdom, and Power, by whom He made all things. But if all things were made by that Wisdom, "which reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly ordereth all things,"61 then were they also made by the Son of God to whom He Himself as Son of Man was afterwards to be subject; and the Apostle says that He is the Son of David, "who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh."62 But yet the Lord Himself proposes a question to the Jews, which the Apostle solves in these very words; for when he said, "who was made of the seed of David," he added, "according to the flesh," that it might be understood that He is not the Son of David according to His Divinity, but that the Son of God is David's Lord; for thus in another place, when He is setting forth the63 privileges of the Jewish people, the Apostle saith, "Whose are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, Who is over all, God blessed for ever."64 As, "according to the flesh," He is David's Son; but as being "God over all, blessed for ever," He is David's Lord. The Lord then saith to the Jews, "Whose Son say ye that Christ is?" They answered, "The Son of David."65 For this they knew, as they had learnt it easily from the preaching of the Prophets; and in truth, He was of the seed of David, "but according to the flesh," by the Virgin Mary, who was espoused to Joseph. When they answered then that Christ was David's Son, Jesus said to them, "How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My fight hand, till I put Thine enemies under Thy feet.66 If David then in spirit call Him Lord, how is He his Son?"67 And the Jews could not answer Him. So we have it in the Gospel. He did not deny that He was David's Son, so that they could not understand that He was also David's Lord. For they acknowledged in Christ that which He became in time, but they did not understand in Him what He was in all eternity. Wherefore wishing to teach them His Divinity, He proposed a question touching His Humanity; as though He would say, "You know that Christ is David's Son, answer Me, how He is also David's Lord?" And that they might not say, "He is not David's Lord," He introduced the testimony of David himself. And what doth he say? He saith indeed the truth. For you find God in the Psalms saying to David, "Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat."68 Here then He is the Son of David. But how is He the Lord of David, who is David's Son? "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand."69 Can you wonder that David's Son is his Lord, when you see that Mary was the mother of her Lord? He is David's Lord then as being God. David's Lord, as being Lord of all; and David's Son, as being the Son of Man. At once Lord and Son. David's Lord, "who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God;"70 and David's Son, in that "He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant."71 

49 Luke ii. 42. 
50 Luke ii. 48, 49. 
51 Luke i. 31. 
52 Luke i. 32. 
53 Meruerat. 
54 Dignitatem. 
55 Ephes. v. 23. 
56 Gal. iv. 4. 
57 Fidei.  
58 h) 
femina mulier omnis aetatis et conditionis, sive nupta est, sive non est. Gesenius, Lex. Heb., vide exempla, especially Gen. xxiv. 5 and Isa. iv. 1. Vid. Serm. lii. 10. 
59 Gen. ii. 22. 
60 Luke ii. 49, 50, 51. 
61 Wisd. viii. 1. 
62 Rom. i. 3. 
63 Commendaret. 
64 Rom. ix. 5. 
65 Matt. xxii. 42. 
66 Ps. cx. 1. 
67 Matt. xxii. 43, 44, 45. 
68 Ps. cxxxii. 11. 
69 Ps. cx. 1. 
70 Phil. ii. 6. 
71 Phil. ii. 7.