For Meister Eckhart, the meaning of Christmas is our being born as the sons or daughters of God. He says:
It would mean little to me that the ‘Word was made flesh’ for man in Christ, granting that the latter is distinct from me, unless he also was made flesh in me personally, so that I too would become the Son of God.
He recognizes that we are the sons of God by grace; Christ is the Son of God by nature. We are, as the Scriptures say, truly God’s children—Eckhart time and again cites this teaching from the epistle of John:
Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are. (1 Jn. 3:11).
Eckhart takes this passage very seriously.
Once a man came up to me after a lecture, introduced himself as a rabbi, and told me that in his tradition anyone is called a “son of God” who is a person of wisdom who tries to live a life of wisdom. “And,” he said, “since I believe Jesus was a man of wisdom, I have no problem calling Jesus a ‘son of God.’”
We are all sons and daughters of God who are trying to live lives of wisdom–Eckhart is saying this too. Commenting on John 1:12f., he explains:
I am the son of everything which forms me and gives birth to me in its image and likeness. A person so fashioned [is] God’s Son.
Hopefully Wisdom forms us and gives birth to us in its image and likeness–that is what Christmas and Advent are about.
Indeed, in the text from the Book of Wisdom that Eckhart uses for his Christmas sermon, a line immediately preceding the text goes like this:
Those who, thanks to their sorceries, had been wholly incredulous at the destruction of their firstborn now acknowledge this people to be sons of God (Wis 18:13).
God’s people as sons and daughters of God—“this people the sons of God”—there is the biblical theme that Eckhart expounds in his Christmas sermon.
Eckhart reminds us that, as the Scriptural text reads, “the Word comes in the darkness of the night,” it comes in the darkness of our own souls where
…the Father generates his Son in the foundation of the soul and in its being, and he thus unites himself with the soul. For if any image were there, it would not be a true union. Yet the whole happiness of the soul is situated in this true union….The Father bears his Son in the soul in the same way that he bears him in eternity, not in any other way.
And not only is the Son of the heavenly Father born in this darkness, but you also are born there as a child of the same heavenly Father and none other; and he also gives that power to you.
Thus Christmas, thus Advent.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 308, 310f.
Banner Image: “The Word Became Flesh” This stone sculpture of the incarnate Word is in the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit. Photo by Lawrence OP on Flickr.
Is Eckhart’s development of the theme of our being born sons and daughters of God beginning to affect your understanding of advent and Christmas? How so?