The readings for the First Sunday of Advent set the tone for the season. Richard Rohr, reflecting on Advent, tells us that we must adopt an adult view of Advent and Christmas. We always have a threefold dimension—part, present, and future. The past is the physical birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The present, about which we will say more, is the presence of the Risen Christ in our hearts and our universe. The future is the coming of the Cosmic Christ to bring all things to completion.
Jesus of Nazareth is history, so to speak. Jesus today lives on as the Christ—the Son of Man anointed by the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. Today, the Christ lives in our hearts and in our communities of faith. Merton was fond of quoting the Eastern mystics, “God became human so that we might become divine.” Thus, Christ lives in us as our deepest reality, our true self which is aligned with the will of God as Jesus was during his earthly life. We are created in the image and likeness of God. God is our deepest reality.
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence–
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil–
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
Today we still embrace the old cosmology—God up there above the heavenly dome waiting to come down to our assistance. We now know that God is not up there and out there in a universe with billions of galaxies each with billions of stars. Rather we see God as flaring forth in creation as the original cosmic dust takes on new forms and new life. We are the dust of the living God! The spirit within that dust dwells deep down within us. Through prayer and meditation and worship we come to live in our deepest reality—God within us challenging us to become what we already are and God without beckoning us and all of creation to completion. We, as Teresa of Avila reminds us, the hands, feet, eyes, ears and heart of God. Christ lives within us to bring all things to completion.
Christ within is the potter who molds and shapes us through the power of the Spirit into the image of the Living God:
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Christ, the Cosmic Christ, is also alive and thriving as creation still flares forth morphing into ever new manifestations of the Godhead. The Cosmic Christ, who danced as Wisdom before creation began, is molding and shaping creation into its final image. The Cosmic Christ is present and future calling us to bring all of creation to fulfillment. We are not being called to dominate, destroy and deplete creation. We are to cherish and hold sacred that which God has created. Life is not about profit and greed. Life is not about self-serving personal interest. Life is about giving and compassion and mercy and forgiveness and love. Life is not about the XL Pipeline to bring us tar Sands oil. Life is about alleviating human misery and suffering.
Today, as we begin Advent, we celebrate the birth of the Christ.
Paul gets it right:
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind– just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you– so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
We check the signs of the times. Christ living within us and within creation empowers us to see the signs and bring the Good News to bear. When we see greed and exorbitant wealth, we know that the Kin-dom is not near. When we see greed wars for resources, we know that the Kin-dom is not near. When we see manmade human misery, we know the Kin-dom is not near. When we see environmental destruction, we know the Kin-dom is not near.
When we see these and other signs, we know to answer the clarion call to love, peace, justice, compassion, care for creation, mercy and forgiveness. This is the message of the Christ living within us and within creation.
“Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”