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Divine DNA

Sunday, November 5, 2017

God as Us: Week 1

Divine DNA
Sunday, November 5, 2017

“God as Us” is the title for the next two weeks of meditations. Perhaps you might think this daring or presumptuous. Yet the union between God and creation, and most specifically humanity, has always been the precise goal of Christianity. Hear St. John of Damascus (c. 676-749), who is called the last of the Early Fathers of the Church: “I do not venerate matter, I venerate the fashioner of matter who became matter for my sake . . . and through matter worked my salvation. . . . [I] hold in respect that through which my salvation came because it is filled with divine energy and grace.” [1]

Over time we have forgotten this foundational reality. Christians worship Jesus because he did not forget but fully lived the union of human and divine. We, too, are both human and divine—at the same time. We dare to believe that God has become one of us, fully one with us—and in Jesus reveals God’s self even as us! Henceforth we speak of both humanity and the very elements (summarized in bread and wine) as “The Body of Christ.” Our vocation is to incarnate God as alter Christus, which means “another Christ.” As the familiar saying goes, “Christ has no body now but yours; no hands, no feet, but yours.” This is why the celebrant of the Eucharist must speak in the first person. He or she does not say “This is his body,” but representing Jesus; she or he must always say “This is my body.”

We’ve got to get the who right or the mystery is not communicated or celebrated. I am not saying that I am the exact same as God, but I am saying God’s Spirit objectively resides in me and in you! The divine DNA is in everyone and everything God has created “from the beginning” (read Ephesians 1:3-6 as if for the first time). As humans, we are graced with the capacity to realize this, fully enjoy it, and draw mightily from it. You might say this is what characterizes an authentic Christian.

If we continue to focus on our unworthiness and original sin as our foundation, we will continue to act accordingly. If Christians emphasize retribution and judgment, we will only contribute to more violence and division. We become what we believe ourselves to be. Yes, I know I am weak and objectively unworthy of God’s mercy. But I simultaneously know that I am totally worthy—and my worthiness has nothing to do with me! When looking at me, the Creator sees God’s beloved child. God cannot not see Christ in me . . . as the unique incarnation called “me.”

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Note that it does not just say “Jesus,” but “flesh.” Let’s make it quite specific and practical: When you get up in the morning, ask yourself, “What aspect of God, what aspect of Love, am I being called to incarnate in the world today? How can I be Jesus today?”

Over the next two weeks I will explore how we uniquely incarnate God as embodied human beings, paying particular attention to those who have been regularly excluded: especially women, racial and ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, and people with disabilities. On and on we created exceptions to the universal and definitive “image and likeness” of God in creation (Genesis 1:26-27). And thus we have the hateful, divided world we live in today.

Gateway to Silence:
I am created in God’s image.

[1] John of Damascus, Treatise I.16. See Three Treatises on the Divine Images, trans. Andrew Louth (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press: 2003), 29.

Image credit: Young Woman, Juarez, Mexico, 2009. CAC archives.
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