The Cosmic Christ: Week 2
Friday, April 7, 2017
A universal notion of Christ takes mysticism beyond the mere individual and private level that has been seen as mysticism’s weakness. If authentic God experience overcomes the primary false split between yourself and the divine, then it should also overcome the equally false split between yourself and the rest of creation.
For some of us, the first split is overcome personally in an experience of Jesus, but for many others (maybe even most!), union with the divine is first experienced through the Christ: in nature, in moments of pure love, silence, inner or outer music, with animals, awe before beauty, or some kind of “Brother Sun and Sister Moon” experience. Why? Because creation itself is the first incarnation of Christ, the primary and foundational “Bible” that reveals the path to God. The first incarnation of the Christ Mystery started about 13.8 billion years ago at “The Big Bang.” So some start with Jesus, but many who began with the Christ Mystery did not have that experience validated by the Church. They looked secular, humanistic, or like mere “nature mystics.” But God uses and honors all starting points!
Pre-Christian and pre-Jewish people already had access to God. This is the ecclesia ab Abel (“the church that existed since Abel”) that has been spoken of so often by the early church Fathers and in the documents of Vatican II. From the first righteous victim (Genesis 4:10; Matthew 23:35) until now, all suffering cries out to God and elicits divine compassion and community. This is a momentous and universal truth. We are indeed “saved” inside the Christ Mystery since the beginning of consciousness. Only in eventual time did this community take the form of “church.”
So we are called to love both Jesus and Christ. You can begin with either Jesus or Christ, but eventually it is easiest to love both. Too many Christians have started and stopped with Jesus, never knowing the universal Christ. Many non-Christians have started with loving the Christ by another name. I have met Hindus, Muslims, and Jews who live in this hidden mystery of oneness; and I have met many Roman Catholics and Protestants who are running away from the Christ Mystery, as either practical materialists or pious spiritualists.
Tertullian (160–225), who is called “the father of Western theology,” rightly taught that “the flesh is the hinge of salvation” (Caro salutis est cardo).  The incarnation of flesh and Spirit is Christianity’s most important contribution to spirituality, and this is the meaning of “The Christ,” although you do not need to name it as such.
Now “the world, life and death, the present and the future are all your servants, for you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God” (1 Corinthians 3:22-23). Full salvation is finally universal belonging and universal connecting. Our Christian word for that is “heaven.” This is why Jesus can say to a man dying in time, “This day you are with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The Christ is now, here, everywhere, and always.
Gateway to Silence:
In Christ, with Christ, through Christ
 Tertullian, De resurrectione carnis (Treatise on the Resurrection), 8, 2.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 223-226.