Mystical Word  |  Weekly Reflection
Mystical Word is a weekly reflection on the Sunday Gospel reading by L.J. Milone, Director of Faith Formation, Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle

Jesus, Gate to Abundant Life

The joy of God is close to you and within you.

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus says, “I am the gate…I came so that [my followers] might have life and have it more abundantly.”  Jesus is the gate to abundant life, joy without end.  Jesus is the way into God.  In this respect, Meister Eckhart says that Jesus “brought us our blessedness.  The blessedness that he brought us was ours.”  This blessedness Jesus brought us is our unity with God.  An abundant life is one that knows unity with God.  An abundant life is full of joy.  An abundant life is lived from the inside out.  The way into this abundant life is Jesus.

For the Meister, Jesus is crucially important because in him God became human.  Eckhart holds to an ancient view of why God became human in Jesus.  It was not only to save us from our sins, but also to make us God, too.  God became human that humans might become God.  This might be Eckhart’s central point about Jesus Christ.  Eckhart sees Jesus Christ as the one who reveals the ground where both God and the human soul are one beyond all distinction.  He asks, “Why did God become man?  So that I might be born the same.  God died so that I might die to the whole world and to all created things.”  For Eckhart, the whole point of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is to make us realize oneness with God, which is something God eagerly desires.

Meister Eckhart ends one of his sermons with the following heartfelt point: “Never has a person longed after anything so intensely as God longs to bring a person to the point of knowing him.  God is always ready but we are very unready.  God is near to us but we are very far from him.  God is within us but we are outside.  God is at home in us but we are abroad…God help us that we all follow him so that he can bring us to the point where we truly know him.”  God just wants to know us and enjoy us.  In many of his sermons Eckhart portrays God as enjoying creatures, as savoring the goodness of each one of us.  He preaches, “God finds joy and rapture in us.”  In other words, for Meister Eckhart God delights in us and cannot wait for us to follow Jesus by letting go of our egos and coming home to divine unity.  This divine delight is available here and now.

Meister Eckhart wants to help us enjoy this very moment fully and enjoy it now.  He guides us into a new awareness, one that sees God in the ins and outs of our family time, professional lives, and every other part of our day.  Meister Eckhart says the joy of the Lord, which is “the Lord himself and no other,” is available to us right now.  While preaching Meister Eckhart once said, “Do not be afraid, for this joy is close to you and is in you: there is not one of you who is so coarse-grained, so feeble of understanding, or so remote but he may find this joy within himself, in truth, as it is, with joy and understanding, before you leave this church today, indeed before I have finished preaching: he can find this as truly within him, live and possess it, as that God is God and I am a man.”  There is nothing to fear.  We can know the joy of God within here and now.  All we have to do is let go and center our hearts and minds on nothing but God.

We might think this joy is not for us.  We might think it’s beyond us, maybe because we feel some worthlessness or shame about our past.  Therefore, some of us might rule out ever being able to enjoy the God who enjoys us.  But Eckhart is quick to remind us, “God is a God of the present.  God takes and receives you as he finds you—not what you have been, but what you are now.”  This statement is an immense relief.  The past is dead and gone, and God doesn’t seem to care about it.  Instead, God accepts us as we are here and now.  It is through Jesus, the gate, that God reaches out to us with delight and joy to embrace us.

The life of the Resurrection is a divine life of joy and savoring, like the way one enjoys a good meal with family and friends, with laughter and cheer.  Jesus is the way into this joy.  It is the Crucified and Risen Jesus who is the gate into this abundant life of knowing God in joy.  There are obstacles to this joy, however, like shame and fear.  The Meister offers this prayer at the end of a sermon: “May God help us so that Jesus can come into us and throw out and remove all obstacles and make us one as he is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.”  All we need is openness.