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The Shape of the Universe Is Love

Monday, February 29, 2016

Scripture: Week 2

The Shape of the Universe Is Love
Monday, February 29, 2016

In the beginning YHWH, the God of Israel, says, “Let us make humanity in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves” (Genesis 1:26). The use of the plural pronoun here seems to be an amazing, deep time intuition of what some would later call the Trinity—the revelation of the nature of God as community, as relationship itself, a Mystery of perfect giving and perfect receiving, both within God and outside of God.  “Reality as communion” became the template and pattern for our entire universe, from atoms to galaxies. The first philosophical problem of “the one and the many” was already overcome in God; and we found ourselves to be both monotheists and Trinitarians at the same time. It is one participatory universe of many diverse things in love with one another.

Physicists, molecular biologists, astronomers, and other scientists are often more attuned to this universal pattern than many Christian believers. Paleontologist and Jesuit mystic, Teilhard de Chardin, said it well: “The physical structure of the universe is love.” [1] For a contemporary and creative presentation with the same message, read William Paul Young’s inspired novel, The Shack. Who would have thought that someone could make the doctrine of the Trinity a mystery novel and a page turner? It has now sold forty million copies worldwide.

According to Genesis 1:26, God isn’t looking for servants, slaves, or contestants to jump correctly through some arbitrary hoops. God simply wants mirroring images of God to live on this earth and to make the divine visible. That is, of course, the way love works. It always overflows, reproduces, and multiplies itself. God is saying, as it were, “All I want are icons and mirrors out there who will communicate who I am, and what I’m about.” The experience of election, belovedness, and chosenness is the typical beginning of this re-imaging process. Then “We, with our unveiled faces gradually receive the brightness of the Lord, and we grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect” (2 Corinthians 3:18). You must first surrender to the image within yourself before you will then naturally pass it on—and then you become a very usable two-way mirror.

Henceforth, all your moral behavior is simply “the imitation of God.” First observe what God is doing all the time and everywhere, and then do the same thing (Ephesians 5:1). And what does God do? God does what God is: Love. The logic is then quite different than the retributive justice story line most of us were given. Henceforth, it is not “those who do it right go to heaven later,” but “those who receive and reflect me are in heaven now.” This is God’s unimaginable restorative justice. God does not love you if and when you change. God loves you so that you can change. That is the true story line of the Gospel.

Gateway to Silence:
“The physical structure of the universe is love.” —Teilhard de Chardin


[1] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, trans. J. M. Cohen, “Sketch of a Personal Universe,” Human Energy (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1962), 72.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 1999), 35-36.

Image Credit: Photograph by RoganJosh
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