Scripture Reflection for Sunday March 14th
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
The Gospel of John
Today, I spent time reading a wonderful paper by one of the students in my Early Christianity class. It was an exploration of the idea of the “divine spark” within all things. As the writer pointed out, this thinking is very evident in indigenous spiritualities, whether they be Aboriginal, North American first nations, or Celtic. It also is a very Christian notion, although competing theologies have often won the day over the Centuries.
The idea that the divine life is pulsing in everything, nothing excluded, is something I feel quite convicted about. Don’t ask me for proof. It’s just a deep sense I have that when I’ve heard that expressed — whether from the too maligned Pelagius or Duns Scotus or St. Francis or others — it resonates as deeply right to me.
This week we enter into beautiful texts that assert for us the depth and breadth of God’s love. The Gospel is from John, and it includes on the famous “God so loved the world” verse. I am left wondering, what does it mean that God loves the world? I think it means that God desires all of it so much that God participates in all of it. You, me, the tree, the cricket — all of it. One of my gurus, Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM puts it this way: “God loves things by becoming them.” I’ll put a little more, below, for your enjoyment. In Richard’s mind, that has even more amazing implications: “Instead of saying that God came into the world through Jesus, maybe it would be better to say that Jesus came out of an already Christ-soaked world.” Wow.
The reading this Sunday reminds me of the magnificent phrase Tertullian contributed to the Creed: “God from God, Light from Light.” There is light, and we are drawn into it. We are lit up from within by it.
I hope you can be with us this Sunday as we are blessed with Annie Hayes breaking open the Word with us.
Because it is the one year mark of praying together on Zoom, we are going to commemorate that with song and prayer. We will not celebrate the Eucharist, but pray the Liturgy of the Word together to give ample time for people to share thoughts and insights.
With gratitude for who you are in the world,
An Ecumenical Catholic Community
cháris Χάρις khar’ece
|Christ Since the Beginning |
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
The kind of wholeness I’m describing as the Universal Christ is a forgotten treasure of the Christian Tradition that our postmodern world no longer enjoys and even vigorously denies. I always wonder why, after the rise of rationalism in the Enlightenment, Westerners would prefer such incoherence. I thought we had agreed that coherence, pattern, and some final meaning were good. But intellectuals in the last century have denied the existence and power of such great wholeness—and in Christianity, we have made the mistake of limiting the Creator’s presence to just one human manifestation, Jesus.
The implications of our selective seeing have been massively destructive for history and humanity. Creation was deemed profane, a pretty accident, a mere backdrop for the real drama of God’s concern—which we narcissistically assumed is always and only us humans. It is impossible to make individuals feel sacred inside of a profane, empty, or accidental universe. This way of seeing makes us feel separate and competitive, striving to be superior instead of deeply connected and in search of ever-larger circles of union.
I believe God loves things by becoming them. God loves things by uniting with them, not by excluding them. Through the act of creation, God manifested the eternally out-flowing Divine Presence into the physical and material world. Ordinary matter is the hiding place for Spirit and thus the very Body of God. Honestly, what else could it be, if we believe—as orthodox Jews, Christians, and Muslims do—that “one God created all things”? Since the very beginning of time, God’s Spirit has been revealing its glory and goodness through the physical creation. So many of the Psalms assert this, speaking of “rivers clapping their hands” and “mountains singing for joy.” When Paul wrote, “There is only Christ. He is everything and he is in everything” (Colossians 3:11), was he a naïve pantheist or did he really understand the full implication of the Gospel of Incarnation?
God seems to have chosen to manifest the invisible in what we call the “visible,” so that all things visible are the revelation of God’s endlessly diffusive spiritual energy. Once a person recognizes that, it is hard to ever be lonely in this world again.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change
Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 15-17.