Made Flesh

b201295025The Christmas season celebrates, of course, the incarnation or “enfleshment” of God in the person of Jesus. As the passage from the beginning of John’s Gospel appointed for this Sunday puts it, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Western Christianity has tended to interpret the incarnation of God in Christ as God’s response to human sin. Eastern Christianity has tended to interpret the incarnation as an overflowing of God’s great love for us, something what would have happened regardless of the state of humanity. Either way, we Christians maintain that in Jesus, God came among us and shared our humanity.

We often don’t think about the other side of this truth: that if God inhabited the human space of Christ, so we human beings have the potential to inhabit the divine space. As St. Athanasius put it many centuries ago, “God became man that man might become god.” Two mystics of old, Meister Eckhart and Theresa of Avila, each expressed this truth in their own ways. As we continue to celebrate Emmanuel, “God with us”, I offer their thoughts:

What good is it to me
If Mary gave birth to the Son of God
fourteen hundred years ago, and I do not
also give birth to the Son of God
in my time and in my culture?

We are meant to be mothers of God.
— Meister Eckhart (1260-1329)

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
— Theresa of Avila (1515-1582)

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