Christians are pretty sure about Christmas. It’s the birthday of Jesus, the only Son of God Most High, Saviour of Humanity. It’s right there in the name.
It’s about the birth of Christ.
In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. It was with God in the beginning. Through it all things were made; without it nothing was made that has been made. In it was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
– John 1:1-5
This Advent, I’ve been ankle-deep in a challenging book called “The Real Christ” by Bernadette Roberts. It’s strikingly opinionated, ferociously researched and passionately grounded in Robert’s own mystical insights.
Ms. Roberts’ goal is to reconnect Christian tradition to the experiential reality which grounded and inspired the writings of the first theologians of the 2nd–4th centuries. In her view, the situation of the Incarnation is obvious, clear and universally agreed in this early era.
The Logos is that aspect of the Divine process which reveals itself in and as Reality itself. We encounter it in and through our experience of the world.
“Christ” refers to the union between the Logos and human nature itself. Through Christ, we humans are all drawn into an ontological union with the Trinity.
Jesus was a human person who exemplifies a life of full surrender to union with the Logos. Jesus was Christ.
But to reduce Christ to that one, human life, to pretend that it is only Jesus who is one with the Father, is to deny your own, personal responsibility to “become not a Christian, but a Christ” (Gospel of Philip).
God became man so that man might become God
– Augustine of Hippo
So, this is Incarnation.
Exemplified in the life of Jesus and in the realization of countless saints since, shown forth in the Eucharist and laying before you as the ultimate aim and goal your own spiritual journey.
Oneness. Union. Theosis. Divinization.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
– Luke 2:4-7
As Christians, at Christmas, we remember this very human story of a young couple, a long journey, a humble stable and a tiny child. Angels. Shepherds. The Glory of the Lord.
But I believe we must also and most crucially attend to the nativity of the Logos indwelling our own soul. Perhaps our humanness does feel humble and a little over-crowded. Perhaps we are not aware, or only faintly aware, of God’s Presence in us. Maybe it is very small and very fragile. It might require great gentleness and care.
We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.
– Meister Eckhart
This Christmas, don’t get trapped into regarding the journey to full, human adulthood as a fairy tale or a story told about mythical people in lost times and mysterious places. Attend to the Presence as it reveals itself in your own heart, and commit yourself to the same journey made by countless others.
Gnosis is the journey. Agape is the method. Theosis is the goal.