At the beginning of the New Testament stands a man, the man Jesus, who emerges from the history of mankind. In his genealogy, Matthew carefully traces the transition from the long and bewildering history recorded in the Old Testament to the new reality that begins with Jesus Christ…We might well ask: What kind of history must it have been that at last truly created the “space”, the prerequisite, for the Incarnation of God! What kind of men must they have been who endured the last lap of that journey? What integrity and maturity of spirit must have been attained at the point at which this great transformation of humanity and of the world would be accomplished! But if we approach the text with this kind of expectation we shall be disappointed.
The history into which Jesus enters is a quite ordinary history, marked by all the scandals and ignominy that are inherent in humanity, all the advances and good beginnings, but also all the sinfulness and baseness – a totally human history!… We may ask: Is this the context into which the Son of God could be born? Holy Scripture answers: Yes. But all this is meant as a sign for us. The Incarnation of God does not result from an ascent on the part of the human race but from a descent on the part of God.
The ascent of mankind: the attempt to bring God forth by one’s own efforts and to attain the status of superman – long ago in paradise this attempt failed utterly. One who wants to become God by his own efforts, who reaches arbitrarily for the stars, always ends by destroying himself… What matters os obedience, humility in the face of God’s word. “If they have faith, a small child, or an overburdened laborer, can take precedence over the great ascetics” (J. Danielou), because salvation does not come from man’s greatness but from God’s gracious mercy.
From: Dogma und Verkundigung, pp. 317ff.