SERMON TEN (Pf 10, Q 25, QT 38)
MOYSES ORABAT DOMINUM SUUM (Exodus 32:11 ff., Evans II,11)
I have quoted a text in Latin which is from the lesson appointed for today.1
In German it means, “Moses besought the Lord his God saying, ‘Lord, why is thy wrath kindled against thy people? ‘
Then God answered him, saying, ‘Moses, let me alone, grudge not, permit, consent that my wrath be kindled and that I take vengeance on the people.’
And God promised Moses, saying, “I will exalt thee and magnify thee and multiply thy seed and make thee ruler over a great nation.”
Moses said, ‘Lord, blot me out of the book of life, or forgive the people.’ ”
What does he mean by saying, “Moses besought the Lord his? God “?
Truly if God is your Lord, then you must be His servant, and if you then work for your own good or your own pleasure or your own salvation, then indeed you are not His servant, for you seek not only God’s glory but your own profit.
Why does he say, “the Lord his God “?
If God wills you to be sick and you want to be well; if God wills that your friend should die and you want him to live contrary to God’s will, then God is not your Lord.
If you love God and are sick ‘In God’s name’; if your friend dies ‘In God’s name’; if he loses an eye ‘in God’s name,’ with such a man it would indeed be well.
But if you are sick and pray to God for health, then health is dearer to you than God, and He is not your God.
He is the God of heaven and earth, but not your God.
Now see how God says, “Moses, let my wrath be kindled.” You may ask why God is angry.
Solely at the loss of our salvation, for He seeks nothing of His own: God is so distressed because we jeopardize our salvation.
No greater sorrow could befall God than the martyrdom and death of our Lord Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, which he suffered for our salvation.
Note then, God says, “Moses, suffer my indignation.”
Just see what a righteous man can do with God!
It is a certain and necessary truth that he who resigns his will wholly to God will catch God and bind God, so that God can do nothing but what that man wills.
He who makes his will over wholly to God, to him God gives His will in return, so wholly and so genuinely that God’s will becomes that man’s own, and He has sworn by
Himself to do nothing but what that man wills, for God will never be anyone’s own who has not first become His own: St. Augustine says, ‘Lord, thou wilt be no man’s own till he has become thine own.’
We deafen God Day and night with our cries, ‘Lord, thy will be done,’ and when God’s will be done, we are angry, which is wrong.
If our will is God’s will, that is good, but if God’s will is our will, that is far better.
If your will is God’s will, then if you are sick you will not desire, against God’s will, to be better – though you would wish it were God’s will that you were better.
And when things went wrong with you, you would wish it were God’s will that they should go aright.
But when God’s will is your will, then if you are sick ‘In God’s name’; if your friend dies ‘in God’s name,’ it is a certain and necessary truth that though it should entail all the pains of hell, of purgatory, and the world, the will in union with God would bear all this eternally, forever in hellish torment, and take it for its eternal bliss; and resigning in God’s will our Lady’s bliss and all her perfection and that of all the saints, it would remain forever in eternal pain and bitterness, not wavering for an instant and with no thought of wishing things were otherwise.
When the will is so unified that it forms a single one, then the heavenly Father bears His only-begotten Son in Himself – in me.
Why in Himself, in me?
Because then I am one with Him, He cannot shut me out, and in that act the Holy Ghost receives his being, his becoming, from me as from God.
Why? Because I am in God.
If he does not receive it from me, he does not receive it from God: he cannot in any way exclude me.
Moses’ will had become so fully God’s will that God’s honor with the people was dearer to him than his own felicity.
God held out promises to Moses which Moses brushed aside: had He promised him
His whole Godhead, Moses would not have consented.
But Moses besought God, saying, “Lord, blot me out of the book of life.”
The masters ask, ‘Did Moses love the people more than himself?’
They answer, No!
For Moses well knew that by seeking God’s honor among the people, he came closer to God than by being careless of God’s honor and seeking his own salvation.
And so it behooves a righteous man, not to seek his own in all he does, but only God’s honor.
While in all your doings you are turned more toward yourself, or toward one person more than another, God’s will has not truly become your will.
Our Lord says in the Gospel, “My teaching is not mine but His who sent me” (John 7:16)? And so it should be with a good man: ‘My work is not my work, my life is not my life.’
And if I am thus, then all the perfection and bliss that St. Peter has, and that St. Paul stretched out his head (in martyrdom), and all the felicity they gained thereby, this I enjoy as well as they, and I look to enjoy it eternally as if it had been my own doing.
More: all the works that all the saints and all the angels and Mary, God’s mother, too, ever did, from this I hope to reap eternal joy as if I had done it all myself.
I say humanity and man are different.2
Humanity in itself is so noble that the highest peak of humanity is equal to the angels and akin to God.
The closest union that Christ had with the Father, that is possible for me to win, could I but slough off what there is of this and that and realize my humanity.
All that God ever gave His only-begotten Son He has given me as perfectly as him, no less.
He has given me more: He gave more of my humanity in Christ than to him, for to him He gave nothing: he had it eternally in the Father.
If I hit you, I hit first a Burkhard or a Heinrich, and only then a man.
But God did not do thus. He first took on humanity.
Who is a man? One who has his name from Jesus Christ.
Hence our Lord says in the Gospel, ” He that touches one of these, touches the apple of my eye” (Zech. 2: 8; cf. Matt. 25 :40).
Now I repeat, “Moses besought the Lord his God.”
Many people pray to God to do all He can for them, but they do not want to give God all they can.
They want to share with God and give Him the worst part, and not much at that!
But the first thing God gives is Himself. And when you have God, you have all things with God.
I have sometimes said, he who has God and all things with God, has no more than one who has God alone.
I say too, a thousand angels in eternity are no more than two or one, for there is no number in eternity, it transcends number.
“Moses besought the Lord his God.”
Moses means one who was lifted out of the water. But now I will speak again of the will.
To give a hundred marks of gold for God is a noble deed, and appears as such.
Yet I declare that if I have the will that I should give a hundred marks if I had them – if the will is perfect, then in fact I have paid God and He must give account to me as if I had really given Him a hundred marks.
I say further, If I had the will to give up a whole world did I possess it, then I have made over to God a whole world, and He must render account to me as if I had given a whole world to Him.
I say, if the pope had been slain by my hand, and if it had not occurred with my will, I would go up to the altar and say Mass as usual.
I say humanity is as perfect in the poorest and most wretched as in pope or emperor, for I hold humanity more dear in itself than the man I carry about with me.
That we may be thus united with God, may the truth of which I have spoken help us. Amen. Page 91-94
1 . Eckhart’s scriptural quotation is, as often, free. It is also exceptionally lengthy. This is the lesson for the Tuesday after the fourth Sunday in Lent.
- Human nature as distinct from the individual man. Christ assumed human nature, not a person (see Sermon 13a).