I always get worried when I think I am starting to understand something that St. Paul wrote; however, the beginning of today’s reading says it all:
Brothers and sisters,
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Note what Paul says. He is saying that Jesus died to teach us the way. The way is to no longer live for self but rather to live for Christ, other people, and all of creation. Note what Paul does not say. Paul does not say that Jesus died to make a perfect sacrifice to the Father to atone for our sins. We have grown so used to Anselm’s atonement theory that we miss the real meaning of the Christ for people living with a 21st century world view informed by science and evolutionary theory.
I do not want to be too hard on Anselm. After all, what he had to go on was a medieval world view. Today we have evolution and the deep thinking of Teilhard de Chardin. Evolution is God life flowing forth as love. You cannot posit a literal fall from grace when humans have never yet reached the fullness of human potential. We are in the process of becoming divine as the early fathers and mothers used to say.
Evolution is God’s self-emptying into creation which is the first revelation of God. God emptied God’s self to birth the cosmos. And what a wonderful 13.7 billion years old cosmos it is. Our Milky Way is one of hundreds of thousands of galaxies. The Milky Way has one billion stars and is 100,000 light years across! And the entire cosmos is still expanding!
The very stardust which we share with the cosmos is God in matter-energy. God completed the self-emptying in the fullness of time when the Christ was birthed into human flesh, into the stardust of the cosmos.
However, incarnation is completed in resurrection which unleashes the power of God’s very breath, the Holy Spirit, into the unfolding cosmos. Evolution is not a theory. It is what the unfolding of God is all about.
God is creating—self-emptying—at the very moment. We who share in divine life NOW are indeed co-creators. God is no longer up there and out there. As Bishop Spong says Jesus is not a divine invader from outer space. Jesus became the Christ—divine love incarnate in matter-energy. The Christ in the power of the Spirit is here now do what God does—wholemaking as the cosmos moans and groans toward the Omega Point—Christ the fullness of divine love. Not only is the Crist here. The Christ is also up ahead beckoning us toward the fullness of what we can become in the Spirit. Death and sin can no longer pull us down or stop us from being all we can be in Christ. Paul’s hymn to the kenosis—self-emptying—of the Christ is the model for our growth in love, our growth in wholemaking, our growth in LOVE.
Ilio Delio made me aware of the term “wholemaking.” Later in today’s reading, Paul speaks of reconciliation. The Christ brings reconciliation, shalom, peace, healing—wholemaking. Our call as co-creators is to make whole that which is fragmented. Our call is to arise from our self-centeredness to enter more fully into relationships to God, ourselves, others and all of creation. In this day of environmental concerns, it is important for us to be wholemakers in caring for creation. In this day of fractured relationships, it is our responsibility to bring healing. BTW, this is where healing ministry fits into the larger scheme but healing is about much more than personal physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
Paul nails the bottom line—we have to learn under the guidance of the Breath of God to live for others.
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My photography wires me to deeper union with creation. The photograph at the top is an HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo. Basically, you take a number (I took 3 photos –one at normal exposure and one each at +1 and -1.) This enables the photographer to use a computer program to blend the best light qualities of the three photos. Enjoy God’s creation lighting up on a summer mountain morning!