David Vryhof SSJE  2010Meister Eckhart was a 13th century German Dominican who distinguished himself as a theologian and mystic.  He taught that the real meaning of Christmas is not only that God’s Son was born in a stable, but that Christ is born in us.  His most famous sermon, usually presented first in collections of his writings, was preached on Christmas morning.  It begins with this summary:

Here in time we celebrate the eternal birth that God the Father bore and still bears constantly in eternity, and which is also now born in time, in human nature. St. Augustine says that this birth is happening continually. We should ask ourselves: If it doesn’t happen in me, what good is that birth after all? What ultimately matters is that God’s birth should happen in me.

What good is it, Meister Eckhart asks, that Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago if he is not also born in me? 

“How can this be?” we say with Mary.  How is Christ to be born in me?

The answer is the same, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.  It is God himself who will accomplish this in you.”  You have only to be, like Mary, quiet, open-hearted and receptive to the Spirit at work within you.  Say with her, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

How can we cultivate a spirit of quiet receptivity like Mary’s?  Let me suggest three ways:

By opening our hearts to wonder.  It is remarkable that the world is, that we are here, that we can experience it.  Open your eyes to see it, your ears to hear it, your hands to touch it – and be amazed!  Everyday!

By cultivating a spirit of gratitude. Give thanks for the world, for the beauty of the earth, for the wonder of human existence, for the gift of life.  Give thanks for each person you know, those you love and those you find difficult to love.  Open your eyes to the beauty and wonder of every person – and be thankful.

By opening our hearts to compassion.  An open heart feels the suffering and pain of the world and responds to it.  Compassion and a passion for justice go together.  “The purpose of the Christian life,” writes Marcus Borg, “is to become more and more compassionate beings.”

“We are all meant to be mothers of God…,” wrote Meister Eckhart, “for God is always needing to be born.”  Open your hearts and let him be born in you.


  1. Mothers of God | Katherine Museus on January 16, 2019 at 13:46

    […] David Vryhof, “Mothers of God,” Society of Saint John the Evangelist, 20 December 2012. https://www.ssje.org/2012/12/20/mothers-of-god-br-david-vryhof/ Accessed 21 December […]

  2. Holding a Newborn – The Church of the Redeemer on December 21, 2017 at 11:14

    […] And so it is that we find ourselves once again on the brink of holding and hearing the good news of another, Holy birth, a long, long time ago, in a land far, far away. Meister Eckhart, German mystic from the 13th century, reflecting on Jesus’ birth, asked: “What good is it, that Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago if Christ is not also born in me?” https://www.ssje.org/2012/12/20/mothers-of-god-br-david-vryhof/ […]

  3. Ruth West on December 19, 2017 at 21:09

    Br. David, thanks for this great message. Proof positive that great sermons do not necessarily need to be long! My prayer tonight is “Jesus, be born in me today.”

  4. Susan Maltz on December 18, 2017 at 21:55

    Giving thanks for those who are difficult to love! I think I need to pray about this Big Time!!!

  5. Diane Hull on December 18, 2017 at 06:09

    Amen, Amen

  6. Born in Us – dwell ministries on December 15, 2017 at 14:44

    […] “Mothers of God” — Br. David Vryhof […]

  7. Rick Enright on September 17, 2016 at 14:23

    Spot on, for unlike other religions, our God is not distant and abstract but is close and lives in us.

  8. Elizabeth Hardy on September 17, 2016 at 11:04

    Compassion, so much more difficult, yet so much more genuine than that word ‘love’ that is used for everything from coffee to reality tv! Thanx Br David.

  9. Ed Greene on September 17, 2016 at 10:32

    The “threefold plan” that David proposes is what has been happening in me almost spontaneously during the last few years. David was a very helpful spiritual guide for me in a conversation some 20 years ago at VTS. I was struggling with my newly acknowledged orientation, whether or not it would be right for me to have a relationship with another man. He gently but insistently asked the questions I did not dare ask myself. Thank you, David.

  10. David Cranmer on December 27, 2015 at 21:47

    Br David, somehow I already knew what you have said, but the way you have said it helps me understand the connection between Christ’s birth in a stable and the gift of the Holy Spirit in me in a new and profound way. Thank you, DavC

  11. Lynnda Ebright on December 14, 2015 at 00:37

    Thank you….

  12. Claudia Booth on December 13, 2015 at 23:06

    Brother David,
    Yes, yes, yes!!! This is the truth.

  13. Christopher Engle Barnhart on December 13, 2015 at 14:18

    I love the hymn that begin: “Open my eyes that I may see, visions of truth that God has for me.”

  14. Tudy Hill on December 13, 2015 at 09:29

    There is power ( for me to recall to mind) in the brevity of your words, Brother David. Thank you.

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