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The Christification of the Universe

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Nature: Week 1

The Christification of the Universe
Sunday, November 6, 2016

The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. —John 6:51

Jesus the Christ did not talk in this truly shocking way (see John 6:60) so we could worship bread and wine. He came so that we would recognize his presence in all things, not just in the human body of Jesus, not just in the human body of God’s people (1 Corinthians 12:12ff), but even in the nurturing elements of the earth, symbolized by the ubiquitous food of bread and wine (1 Corinthians 11:23ff), and therefore to the very edges of creation (Romans 8:19). The mystery that was made personal and specific in Jesus was revealed as the shape of the entire universe. [1] What else could the universe be but “the body of God”? Think about it. The Incarnate One is the stand-in for “everything in heaven and everything on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). This is not a competing religious statement as much as a highly symbolic metaphysical plan “from the beginning,” “from the foundation of the world” (see Ephesians 1).

God is not just saving people; God is saving all of creation. It is all “Real Presence.” We could call it the primordial “Christification” or anointing of the universe at Creation. This is not pantheism (God is everything), but panentheism (God is in everything!). Such a central message of cosmic incarnation was never seriously taught in the Western, overly individualistic church, except by a few like Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), and Bonaventure (1221-1274). It was much more common in the Eastern Church, especially in early scholars and mystics like Maximus the Confessor, Gregory of Nyssa, and Symeon the New Theologian.

Inspired by the more contemporary mystic scientist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Franciscan sister and scientist Ilia Delio writes:

Christ invests himself organically within all creation, immersing himself in things, in the heart of matter, and thus unifying the world. The universe is physically impregnated to the very core of its matter by the influence of his superhuman nature. Everything is physically “christified,” gathered up by the incarnate Word as nourishment that assimilates, transforms, and divinizes. [2]

From the way we treat the planet, other humans, and sometimes even ourselves, it seems we don’t understand or really believe this. When you don’t recognize that the Christ Mystery is universal, that God is present in—and is saving—all of creation, you can choose what you respect and what you disrespect, what you love and what you hate. The full Gospel takes away from you any power to decide and discriminate where God is and where God isn’t. The old Baltimore Catechism answered the sixteenth question, “Where is God?” quite clearly: “God is everywhere.” But we never really believed it!

Gateway to Silence:
Brother Sun, Sister Moon, help me see God in all things.

[1] See the last two weeks of meditations on the Cosmic Christ, beginning with October 23, 2016.
[2] Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love (Orbis Books: 2013), 79.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “The Christification of the Universe,” a homily at Holy Family Parish, August 16, 2015, Center for Action and Contemplation,

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