Therefore, God, seeing the world falling into ruin because of fear, continuously acts to recall it with love, invite it back by grace, hold it tight in charity, and embrace it with affection. …
Yet, in all these wonders which we mentioned, when the flame of divine love enkindles human hearts, and the intoxication of the love of God overflows into men’s senses, they begin, with impaired mind, to want to see God with their bodily eyes. How could the restricted human sight take in God whom the world does not contain? The faculties of love give no second thought to what will be, what ought to be, or what can be. Love has not judgment, heeds not reason, knows not measure. Love accepts no solace because the object it desires is impossible, nor cure because the object is difficult.
Unless love gains its desires it kills the lover. That is why it goes where it is led, not where it ought. Love brings forth desire, it swells with ardor; and ardor extends itself to illicit objects. Why should I say more? Love cannot stand not to see what it loves. That is why all the saints deemed everything they merited of little worth if they should not see the Lord. And truly, brethren, how will one render homage in return for benefits received if one does not see the giver of the benefits? Or how will one believe that he is loved by God if he does not merit the vision of Him?
This is why love which longs to see God, even if it lacks judgment, does have the spirit of devotion. This is why Moses dares to say: “If I have found favor in thy sight, show me thy face.” This is why another man says: “Show us thy face.” Finally, this is why the very Gentiles fashioned idols. In their errors they wanted to see with their eyes what they were worshiping.
Therefore, God, aware that men were suffering torture and weariness from their longing to see Him, chose as a means to make Himself visible something which was to be great to the dwellers of earth and by no means small to the dwellers in heaven. For, could something which God made like Himself on earth fail to be deemed honorable in heaven? “Let us make mankind in our image and likeness,” Scripture says. What perfect devotion owes to a king it owes also to his picture. If God had assumed an angelic nature from heaven, He still wold be invisible. If from the earth He had assumed something less than human nature, He would have suffered an insult to His divinity, and He would have depressed, not elevated man.
Therefore, most dearly beloved, let no one deem it an insult to God if God came to men through a man, and assumed something from ourselves, in order to be seen by us—He who lives and reigns as God now, and through all the ages of ages. Amen.
St Peter Chrysologus