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Mystical Hope
Mystical Hope

The Christ Mystery

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Richard writes about how the coming of Christ is far more than the birth of a baby. The Christ Mystery is nothing less than a cosmic hope for history:

The Second Coming of Christ that history is waiting for is not the same as the baby Jesus or even the historical Jesus. The historical Jesus was one man, and Christ is not his last name. The Christ includes the whole sweep of creation and history joined with him—and us too. We call this the Cosmic Christ. We ourselves are members of the Body of Christ and the Cosmic Christ, even though we are not the historical Jesus. So we very rightly believe in “Jesus Christ,” and both words are essential.

The celebration of Christmas is not a sentimental waiting for a baby to be born, but much more an asking for history to be born! (see Romans 8:20–23). Any spirituality that makes too much of the baby Jesus is perhaps not yet ready for real life. God clearly wants friends, partners, and images, if we are to believe the biblical texts. God, it seems, wants mature religion and a free response from us. God loves us as partners, with mutual give and take, and we eventually become the God that we love.

All of us take part in the evolving, universe-spanning Christ Mystery. Jesus is a map for the time-bound and personal level of life, and Christ is the blueprint for all time and space and life itself. Both reveal the universal pattern of self-emptying and infilling (Christ) and death and resurrection (Jesus), which is the process we have called “holiness,” “salvation,” or just “growth,” at different times in our history. For Christians, this universal pattern perfectly mimics the inner life of the Trinity in Christian theology, which is our template for how reality unfolds, since all things are created “in the image and likeness” of God (Genesis 1:26–27).

The power of the biblical proclamation is that it clearly invites us into “cooperation” (Romans 8:28), free “participation” (Philippians 3:10), and the love of free and mature persons in God (Ephesians 4:13). We can apparently trust ourselves to grow because God has done it first and foremost. The Christ we are asking for and waiting for includes our own full birth and the further birth of history and creation. Now we can say “Come, Christ Jesus” with a whole new understanding and a deliberate passion!

Franciscan theologian and scientist Ilia Delio affirms the intrinsic hope and loving responsibility of Christian faith in an evolutionary universe:

We must suffer through to something higher, something more unified, more conscious, more being in love. Hope must be born over and over again, for where there is love, there is hope. Christian life is birthing love into greater unity; it is our contribution to a universe in evolution. We point the way to something more than ourselves, something up ahead that we are now participating in, where heaven and earth will be renewed (Revelation 21). [1]

[1] Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love (Orbis Books: 2013), 198.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent (Franciscan Media: 2008), 7–9; and

Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (Convergent: 2019, 2021), 20–21.

Story from Our Community:
I was introduced to Richard Rohr’s meditations by my pastor. It has been so refreshing to hear a message of goodness and hope. My eyes have been opened to a beautiful gospel that is life-breathing and life-changing. The meditations have given me new perspectives and released in me a love I’ve always wanted to feel from my heavenly father. Thank you for your courage and insight and for sharing this good news in such a beautiful way!
—Tom F.

Learn more about the Daily Meditations editorial team.

Image credit: Nicholas Kramer, Untitled (detail), 2021, photograph, Seattle. Used with permission.
Image inspiration: What if I stopped complaining about how suburban streetlights pollute the night sky and instead tried to discover what beauty their light could uncover? How could my commitment to seeing something as it is, without judgment, help me see beyond my initial impression of it?
—Nicholas Kramer, Photographer of December DM photo series
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