Incarnation: Week 2
From Love to Love
Thursday, January 21, 2016
No matter what your definition, we all want resurrection in some form. And I do believe “the raising up of Jesus” (which is the correct theological way to say it, conveying a relational meaning between Jesus and God, and not a self-generated “I can do this”) is a potent, focused, and compelling statement about what God is still and forever doing with the universe and with humanity. Science strongly confirms this statement today, but with different metaphors and symbols, like condensation, evaporation, hibernation, sublimation, the four seasons, and the life cycles of everything from salmon to stars—constantly dying and being reborn of the same stardust. God appears to be resurrecting everything all the time and everywhere. It is not something to “believe in” as much as it is something to observe and be taught by.
Many do believe in the bodily resurrection, as I do too, but in a way that asks little except a mere intellectual assertion of a religious doctrine. We can go much further than that. I choose to believe in some kind of bodily resurrection because it localizes the whole Mystery in this material and earthly world and in our own bodies, the only world we know and the world that God created and loves and in which God chose to incarnate.
We all want to know that this wonderful thing called life is going somewhere, and somewhere good. It is going to someplace good because it came from someplace good—a place of “original blessing” instead of “original sin.” “I know where I came from and where I am going,” Jesus says, “but you do not” (John 8:14). So he came to tell us! The Alpha and the Omega of history have to match, or our lives have no natural arc, trajectory, or organic meaning. The end has to be in the beginning, as T.S. Eliot said. In the Book of Revelation (1:8, 21:6, 22:13) it states that Jesus is the Alpha of history, which Duns Scotus called “the first idea in the mind of God,” and also the “Omega Point” of history, which was the phrase used by Teilhard de Chardin.
If the original divine incarnation was and is true, then resurrection is both inevitable and irreversible. If the Big Bang was the external starting point of the eternal Christ Mystery, then we know Creation is being led somewhere good, and it is not a chaotic or meaningless universe. Alpha and Omega are in fact one and the same. No one taught this better than the Jesuit mystic and paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin, who has become the champion of evolutionary Christianity. (Pope Benedict XVI quoted him several times in the final years of his Papacy.)
For Teilhard, the Risen Presence is the Prime Attractor that keeps alluring and inviting history forward toward its certain conclusion. The Cosmic Christ is the divine lure, a blinking, brilliant light set as the Omega Point of time and history that keeps reminding us that love, not death, is the eternal thing. Love, which is nothing more than endless life, is luring us forward, because love is what we also and already are. All life is inexorably drawn to the fullness of its own existence. “Like knows like” and, similar to an electromagnetic force, Love is drawing the world into a fullness of love. I firmly believe we will finally be unable to resist the allure. Love will always win. God does not lose.
Gateway to Silence:
God in me sees God who is also beyond me.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 86-88, 92-93.