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Giving Birth to Christ

Christ Is Born in Creation

Monday, December 7th, 2020

Giving Birth to Christ

Christ Is Born in Creation
Monday, December 7, 2020

Humanity too is God’s creation. But humanity alone is called to co-operate with God in the creation. —Hildegard of Bingen

For of his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. —John 1:16

The Greek word for “fullness” in this gospel passage is pleroma, which Paul also uses in his writings to describe a historical unfolding (see Ephesians 1:23, 3:19; Colossians 2:9–10). It is an early hint of what we now call evolutionary development, the idea that history, humanity and, yes, even God are somehow growing and coming to a divine fullness. What hope and meaning this gives to all life!

In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul writes: “From the beginning until now, the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22). Creation did not happen at once by a flick of the divine hand, and it is not slowly winding down toward Armageddon or tragic Apocalypse. Creation is in fact a life-generating process that’s still happening and winding up! We now know the universe is still expanding—and at an ever-faster rate, which means that we are a part of creating God’s future.

As Sister Ilia Delio says so well,

We can read the history of our 13.7-billion-year-old universe as the rising up of Divine Love incarnate, which bursts forth in the person of Jesus, who reveals love’s urge toward wholeness through reconciliation, mercy, peace, and forgiveness. Jesus is the love of God incarnate, the wholemaker who shows the way of evolution toward unity in love. In Jesus, God breaks through and points us in a new direction; not one of chance or blindness but one of ever-deepening wholeness in love. In Jesus, God comes to us from the future to be our future. Those who follow Jesus are to become wholemakers, uniting what is scattered, creating a deeper unity in love. Christian life is a commitment to love, to give birth to God in one’s own life and to become midwives of divinity in this evolving cosmos. We are to be wholemakers of love in a world of change. [1]

The common Christian understanding that Jesus came to save us by a cosmic evacuation plan is really very individualistic, petty, and even egocentric. It demands no solidarity with anything except oneself. We whittled the great Good News down into what Jesus could do for us personally and privately, rather than celebrating God’s invitation to participate in God’s universal creative work.

Instead of believing that Jesus came to fulfill us separately, how about trusting that we are here to fulfill Christ? We take our small but wonderful part in what Thomas Merton calls “The General Dance.” [2] We are a part of this movement of an ever-growing Universal Christ that is coming to be in this “one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22).

References:
[1] Ilia Delio, “Love at the Heart of the Universe,” “The Perennial Tradition,” Oneing, vol. 1, no. 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013), 22. Note: This edition of Oneing is out of print.

[2] Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (Shambhala: 2003), chapter 39.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Christ, Cosmology, & Consciousness: A Reframing of How We See (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), MP3 download.

Epigraph: Vita Sanctae Hildegardis (The Life of the Holy Hildegard), II, 35. See Hildegard of Bingen: Mystical Writings, ed. Fiona Bowie and Oliver Davies (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 1990), 28.

Image Credit: Abiding Love (detail of triptych), Janet McKenzie, copyright ©2019.www.janetmckenzie.com
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Mary could trustingly carry Jesus, because she knew how to receive spiritual gifts, in fact the spiritual gift. She offers a profound image of how generativity and fruitfulness break into this world. We have much to learn from her. —Richard Rohr
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