Christ Is Everyman and Everywoman

Jesus: Human and Divine

Christ Is Everyman and Everywoman
Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Many of the early Christian mystics saw Jesus as a dynamic and living (“interactive”) union of human and divine in one person. They saw Christ as the living icon of the eternal union of matter and Spirit in all of creation. Jesus was fully human, just as he was fully divine at the same time. Dualistic thinkers find that impossible to process, so they usually just choose one side or the other.

Many who call themselves conservative seem to believe that Jesus is fully divine and we are barely human. Liberals and many non-believers seem to believe that Jesus is only human, and the divine isn’t necessary. Both sides are missing the major point of putting divine and human together! They both lack the proper skill set of the contemplative mind.

Matter and Spirit must be recognized as inseparable in Christ before we have the courage and insight to acknowledge and honor the same in ourselves and in the entire universe. Jesus is the Archetype of Everything.

One of my favorite Orthodox scholars, Olivier Clément (1921–2009), helps explain early Eastern Christianity’s understanding of Christ with some profound statements of his own:

How could humanity on earth, enslaved by death, recover its wholeness? It was necessary to give to dead flesh the ability to share in the life-giving power of God. He, though he is Life by nature, took a body subject to decay in order to destroy in it the power of death and transform it into life. As iron when it is brought in contact with fire immediately begins to share its colour, so the flesh when it has received the life-giving Word into itself is set free from corruption. Thus he put on our flesh to set it free from death. [1]

The whole of humanity, “forms, so to speak, a single living being.” In Christ we form a single body, we are all “members of one another.” For the one flesh of humanity and of the earth “brought into contact” in Christ “with the fire” of his divinity, is henceforward secretly and sacramentally deified. [2]

Unfortunately, at the Council of Chalcedon (451 CE), this view—the single, unified nature of Christ—was rejected for the “orthodox” belief, held to this day by most Christian denominations, that emphasizes two distinct natures in Jesus instead of one new synthesis. Sometimes what seems like orthodoxy is, in fact, a well-hidden and well disguised heresy!

Perhaps quantum physics can help us reclaim what we’ve lost because our dualistic minds couldn’t understand or experience the living paradox that Jesus represents. Now science is confirming there is no clear division between matter and spirit. Everything is interpenetrating. As Franciscan scientist and theologian Ilia Delio says, “We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

References:
[1] Olivier Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism (New City Press: 2013), 47.

[2] Ibid., 46.

Image credit: Salvator Mundi (detail), Titian, circa 1570, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Jesus is the archetype of Everything. . . . In Byzantine art and many later icons, Jesus is shown holding up two fingers, indicating, “I am fully human, and I am fully divine at the same time.” —Richard Rohr

The work of the Center for Action and Contemplation is possible only because of friends and supporters like you!

Learn more about making a donation to the CAC.

FacebookTwitterEmailPrint