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Center for Action and Contemplation

The Second Incarnation Flows from the First

Monday, December 19, 2022

Father Richard writes of the Incarnation of Christ in the person of Jesus:

Through the act of creation, God manifested the eternally outflowing Divine Presence into the physical and material world (see Romans 8:19–25). Ordinary matter is the hiding place for Spirit, and thus the very Body of God. Since the very beginning of time, God’s Spirit has been revealing its glory and goodness through the physical creation.

Christians believe that this universal Christ presence was later “born of a woman under the law” (Galatians 4:4) in a moment of chronological time. This is the great Christian leap of faith.

We daringly believe that God’s presence was poured into a single human being, so that humanity and divinity can be seen to be operating as one in him—and therefore in us! But instead of saying that God came into the world through Jesus, maybe it would be better to say that Jesus came out of an already Christ-soaked world. The second Incarnation flowed out of the first, out of God’s loving union with physical creation. [1]

Jesus offered the world a living example of fully embodied Love that emerged out of our ordinary, limited life situations. For me, this is the real import of Paul’s statement that Jesus was “born of a woman under the law.” In Jesus, God became part of our small, homely world and entered into human limits and ordinariness—and remained anonymous and largely invisible for his first thirty years. Throughout his life, Jesus himself spent no time climbing, but a lot of time descending, “emptying himself and becoming as all humans are” (Philippians 2:7), “tempted in every way that we are” (Hebrews 4:15) and “living in the limitations of weakness” (Hebrews 5:2).

Jesus walked, enjoyed, and suffered the entire human journey, and he told us that we could and should do the same. His life exemplified the unfolding mystery in all of its stages—from a hidden, divine conception, to a regular adult life full of love and problems, punctuated by a few moments of transfiguration and enlightenment, and all leading to glorious ascension and final return. As Hebrews 4:15 states, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who was like us in every way, experienced every temptation, and never backtracked” (my translation). We do not need to be afraid of the depths and breadths of our own lives, of what this world offers us or asks of us. We are given permission to become intimate with our own experiences, learn from them, and allow ourselves to descend to the depth of things, even our mistakes, before we try too quickly to transcend it all in the name of some idealized purity or superiority. God hides in the depths and is not seen as long as we stay on the surface of anything—even the depths of our sins. [2]


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (New York: Convergent, 2019, 2021), 16, 14–15.

[2] Rohr, Universal Christ, 110–111.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Zoe Schaffer, Seedling (detail), 2022, Pennsylvania, photograph, Unsplash. Markus Ilg, Austria (detail), 2020, Austria, photograph, Unsplash. Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 11 (detail), 2022, New Mexico, photograph, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

Image inspiration: The Christ in everything: nature, Advent candles and Scriptures, God in the cells of our hands.

Story from Our Community:

By reading Daily Meditations and listening to CAC podcasts, I’ve realized that God is much bigger than I was led to believe. In my life’s journey, I’ve been through many tragic experiences that have destroyed my sense of self, and have caused harm to others as well. Thankfully, though deep inner work, my true self is beginning to emerge. Going through this process is exciting and lonely at times. I cannot thank you enough for putting language to thoughts and feelings I have. This incredible journey has become so much richer now that I am learning my true identity in God: a true and loving person who shares that love with others and the natural world. —Shona C.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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