Christ Child vs. the Unholy Masculine? A Poem by Leonardo Boff

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.

“Young Jesus taking his first carpentry lessons from Father Joseph alongside Mother Mary.” Image by James Shepard on Flickr.

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?

Recommended Reading

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.  

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8 thoughts on “Christ Child vs. the Unholy Masculine? A Poem by Leonardo Boff”

  1. Avatar

    Mathew, which version of the Bible were you reading from today at the beginning of your video. I like the wording, from that which you read.

    Also Richard, I entered a late question in the comment section from yesterdays DM. I was wondering if you could take a moment to respond to my question, in yesterday’s DM, so I could read the answer. I just want to clarify that I am understanding something about the Via Negativa. Thanks for your consideration.

      1. Avatar

        Richard, thanks so much for answering my question regarding the Via Negativa, in yesterday’s DM. Also just wanted to know which version of the Bible Mathew read from, during today’s DM. I really liked the specific wording from the version that he used, as to the passage he quoted today. Thanks.

        1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
          Richard Reich-Kuykendall

          Jeanette, I don’t really know what version of the Bible Matthew was using but I will try to find out! Also, on the Via Negativa as experiential, it is not just the dark night, but also the experiences of letting go, letting be, stillness and silence–and you might also see from the DMs that there is also a lot of Via Negativa material out there in toxic humanity! But Matthew thought it might be good for you and others that might want to understand the Via Negativa better to look at the following three sources: ORIGINAL BLESSING with its breakdown on the themes within the Second Path, PASSION FOR CREATION under the via Negativa (and check the titles on Eckhart’s sermons), and on the apophatic God see Matthew’s book, NAMING THE UNNAMEABLE: 89 WONDERFUL AND USEFUL NAMES FOR GOD… INCLUDING THE UNNAMEABLE GOD (See: Part II)…

  2. Avatar

    I have faith that our Universal Christ Cosmic Self is eternal with-in God’s Loving~Evolving Oneness… humanity and All Divine Creation…. God Is All in All in our ongoing eternal hhhco-Creation….

  3. Avatar

    What a powerful poem. It reads like a spell to me, a lyrical potion for casting off toxic masculinity and calling forth the sacred masculine. Though I am a woman, I need this spell too 🙂

    Boff’s “The Feminine Face of God” was transformational for me. I look forward to his newest book. Thanks for the heads up!

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