Markus Vinzent's Blog

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Eckhart, Sermons and Lectures on Jesus Sirach 24:23-31

(work in progress, trans. of Patricia Impey and Markus Vinzent)

Sermo I: I am like a vine bearing fruit with a delightful perfume, Sir. 24[:23]

/231/ 1. I am like a vine bearing fruit with a delightful perfume, Sir. 24[:23].
These words first need to be fully expounded in the form of a sermon specifically about the Virgin Mary, secondly they will be explained by way of lecturing.
As far as the first: It is said: I am like a vine bearing fruit with a delightful perfume.
The perfume of his knowledge makes itself known through us in every place, because we are the good perfume of Christ, [2]Cor. 2[:15].
2. What, secondly, is being assumed, suitably responds literally and in reality with the words proposed first. For the apostle, ‘a preacher of truth’, noting the work of preaching, the office of preacher, concludes what is necessary for the preacher, saying: we are the good perfume of Christ: namely, these are three things: purity of life, sincerity of intention, aromatic sweetness of reputation and fame. On the sincerity of in/232/tention: that he only has Christ in mind, nothing other than him, according to [1]Cor. 1[:23]: We preach Christ crucified. The sweetness of reputation: a good perfume. Bernard in (his) letter [writes]: ‘The splendour of a work is the perfume of its fame’. The purity of life: we are. ‘For indeed, for living beings, to live is to be’. But the more common, the more abstract being is understood – we are – the more pure it signifies ‘life’, namely just ‘to live’.
3. And this is what is said by the theme in itself: I am like a vine bearing sweet smelling fruit. ‘I’: purity of life – indeed the ‘I’ expresses pure and undefiled nature – so that it is possible to say: To me to live is Christ, Phil 1[:21]. Since indeed Christ is formed a man ‘by the blood of a pure virgin’ as the Damascene says.
/233/ 4. Like a vine. The like expresses a relation of similarity. However, the being itself of relation is its not itself being; for it being is being not for itself, but of another, towards the other and through the other. In the same way can the preacher of the word of God which is the power of God and God’s wisdom [1Cor. 1:24] not be or live for himself but for Christ [see 2Cor. 5:15] whom he preaches according to Gal. 2[:20]: I live, yet not I, in truth Christ lives in me. I, yet not I, also means: like me, or like a vine, it is Christ, like Christ, according to John 15[:1]: I am the true vine. Christ the vine, the preacher is ‘like a vine’. And because the work belongs to the one who is, the teaching of Christ’s preaching should not have anything else in mind than Christ, so that it is possible to say with John 7[:16]: My teaching is not mine, but of him who sent me. This is therefore, secondly, what is required from the preacher, sincerity of purpose: ‘like a vine’.
5. Thirdly follows, the sweet smelling reputation: Bearing sweet smelling fruit, so that it is possible to say of himself as in Gen. 27[:27]: See, the smell of my son is like the smell of the open country which God has blessed.
/234/ But, my friends, who is capable of this [2Cor. 2:16]? Certainly no one except through him who makes us worthy ministers of the new testament, not by the letter but by the Spirit, [2]Cor. 3[:6]: Not by the letter he said, but by the Spirit. Therefore we ourselves call on the Spirit seeking his filling/infilling(?) and say: “come holy Spirit, come”.
6. I am like a vine etc. We see first the ones who for their own benefit and gain call and invite the trevellers to stay with them, accustomed to offer and promise accomodations which they know travellers and labourers love, according to Matth. 11[:28]: Come to me all who labour and are weary, and I will refresh you. They therefore recommend an inn, food, wine, a dining room and in this way promise a good affair. Isa. 55[:1]: All who are thirsty come to the water and buy wine and milk without any price.
Secondly in this way today divine wisdom invites us out of its goodness saying in the epistle /235/: Come over to me everyone (Sir. 24:26). It promises in the beginning three things which everyone is accustomed to love, not more, not less, nor anything else, but these are purity of what is loved, fullness or abundance, the third is its goodness: purity which pleases without any mix, against Isa. 1[:22]: Your wine is mixed with water; a fullness without any shortcoming; a sweetness which pleases without other affections. And this is what is said here: I am like a vine bearing fruit with a delightful perfume. Purity in the pronoun I: fruitfulness with reference to similarity, in which fruitfulness shines in fullness or abundance: Like a vine; with sweet smelling fruit: Bearing fruit with a delightful perfume.
7.  I am like a vine etc. These words have been written about the uncreated wisdom of God, but they are being read today in the epistle about the virgin mother of God, through whom and in whom the wisdom of God herself is mercifully become incarnate. And accordingly, this sermon will have two parts: Indeed, in the first we explain the foresaid words written about uncreated wisdom, in the second about the virgin mother of God of which one has read today.
8. Therefore, according to the first way, the wisdom of God signifies its own purity saying I. Indeed, the I signifies mere and pure essence, and this is the first thing which is being sought in the one that is loved. /236/ As, in fact, every faculty of the soul has only one pure formal object, nevertheless this applies chiefly to will and love, because, first, ‘the will’ (and love) ‘is itself the end’, which is always unique, and, second, love from its own propriety is unifying. Therefore love and will attend to the loved itself, in itself and through itself, alone and pure, without any other, indeed rather they despise everything that is alien, everything that is other. Indeed the just is so by essence, insofar as such one loves only justice and hates injustice, secondly according to Job 7[:20]: You have set me against you and I am made a burden; Matth. 12[:30]: Whoever is not with me is against me; no one is able to serve two masters, Matth. 6[:24]. Besides, he loves the beloved as pure, so that he has no regard for his essential /237/ principle. Zum Beispiel: Who loves to open a door, does not care at all whether the key is made from wood or gold, as long as it properly unlocks, as Augustine says in Book 4 of his Christian Doctrine. In Tob. 5[:17], therefore, the angel rebuked Tobias saying Why do you seek to know my tribe? On this account it is that love neither beholds the cause or end of the beloved, but only and purely the pure form, Wisd. 8[:2]: I fell in love with her form. Hence, again, ‘the Holy Spirit is the love of the Father in the Son’ which is a formal emanation beyond cause and end according to the following: She is a pure emanation from God (Wisd. 7:25).  
9. Different it is with intellect and knowledge. Indeed, they receive something out of and in its principle, and accordingly this is expounded in a single way in John 1[:1]: In the principle was the word. Because the word belongs to knowledge and intellect. On account of which /238/ Philip said: Lord, show us the Father, that is the principle without principle, and it is enough for us, John 1[4:8]. The intellect is figuratively an that powerful eagle, Ez. 1[7:3-4], with broadly stretched wings which comes to Lebanon and brings the finest of  cedar, that is the principle of the thing and it plucks off the top of its foliage, which means, it apprehends the ideas of things as in the summit of original or primordial causes, where, before they come forth in something, they are hidden ‘in pure, naked intellects alone’. However, amongst this purity of substance the I is addressed, and this is what is first required in the beloved, purity without any mixture which corresponds properly with divine wisdom. Therefore, in book V of the Fountain of Life the author speaks of the high and holy God: ‘He is the essence which constitutes the being of all forms’, ‘perfect wisdom, most pure light’. Prov. 3[:14]: The first and purest are his fruit.
/239/ However, this lofty purity shines out of five [thoughts]. First because essence stands completely itself in itself as completely itself and ‘whatsoever belongs to it’, it relies on nothing, neither is mixed with anything. Therefore, it returns to itself ‘by a full return’.

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