Recently I received a letter from Leonardo Boff, the liberation theologian from Brazil who has written a fine new book that looks back—and forward—on his life’s work. It is called Thoughts and Dreams of an Old Theologian and I highly recommend it.*
In his letter Boff included a short poem that summarizes the Christmas story very nicely. With his permission, I share it here.
It has special relevance, I feel, to the themes of holy and unholy masculinity that we are wrestling with not only in the pages of the DM lately but very much in our souls as a species and as nations (America in particular) today.
Here is Boff’s “little reflection I made on the occasion of Christmas.”
Every boy wants to be a man
Every man wants to be a king.
Every king wants to be ‘God’.
Only God wanted to be a boy.
Thank you, Leonardo, for this Christmas gift. I hope we could plant it in every boy and man’s Christmas stocking. I recall that when Boff and I did a public event together at a Conference on Values in Monterrey, Mexico a few years ago, during out dialog on stage he referred to his white beard and advancing age as being “like Santa Claus.” So we are justified putting this poem into every man’s Xmas stocking—and boy’s too. There are many gifts contained here.
Boff is addressing the passion in the boy to emulate men, to find models of healthy manhood to grow into. But often those models are reduced to power symbols such as a king represents. (Though in Jesus’s case, he dared to redefine kingship and power, saying we are all of royal blood and power is meant to serve others, not one’s ego. And that the kingdom of God is very different from kingdoms/empires of history.)
But the Divine One, the Godself, in the Christmas story, is happier being a boy (See Philippian 2:1-11) than a king or ruler or power-holder.
This links wonderfully with the teachings of Meister Eckhart, that God is “novissimus”—the youngest thing there is in the universe and that we too should grow younger for “I am younger today than I was yesterday and if not younger tomorrow than today, I would be ashamed of myself.”
*To appear in English from Orbis books in 2022.
See Matthew Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 110-113.
And Matthew Fox on Avarice in Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 301-308, 315-317, 326-328.
To read the transcript for Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “Adoration of the Shepherds” Painting by Gerard van Honthorst (1622). Wikimedia Commons.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you find yourself growing younger every day? What other lessons do you unpack from this modest poem by Leonardo Boff? And from Eckhart’s admonitions about the divine youthfulness and ours? And that dimension to the Christmas story?
Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart
Matthew Fox’s comprehensive translation of Meister Eckhart’s sermons is a meeting of true prophets across centuries, resulting in a spirituality for the new millennium. The holiness of creation, the divine life in each person and the divine power of our creativity, our call to do justice and practice compassion–these are among Eckhart’s themes, brilliantly interpreted and explained for today’s reader.
“The most important book on mysticism in 500 years.” — Madonna Kolbenschlag, author of Kissing Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.