God in All Things

The Cosmic Christ: Week 1

God in All Things
Sunday, October 23, 2016

The day of my spiritual awakening
was the day I saw and knew I saw
all things in God and God in all things.
—Mechtild of Magdeburg (c. 1212—c. 1282) [1]

Understanding the Cosmic Christ can change the way we relate to creation, to other religions, to other people, to ourselves, and to God. Knowing and experiencing the Cosmic Christ can bring about a major shift in consciousness. Like Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9), you won’t be the same after encountering the Risen Christ.

As with the Trinity, the Cosmic Christ is present in both Scripture and Tradition and the concept has been understood by many mystics, though not as a focus of mainline Christianity. We just didn’t have the eyes to see it. The Cosmic Christ is about as traditional as you can get, but Christians—including many preachers—have not had the level of inner experience to know how to communicate this to people.

The Cosmic Christ is Divine Presence pervading all of creation since the very beginning. My father Francis of Assisi intuited this presence and lived his life in awareness of it. Later, John Duns Scotus (1266-1308) put this intuition into philosophical form. For Duns Scotus, the Christ Mystery was the blueprint of reality from the very start (John 1:1). Teilhard de Chardin brought this insight into our modern world. God’s first “idea” was to become manifest—to pour out divine, infinite love into finite, visible forms. The “Big Bang” is now our scientific name for that first idea; and “Christ” is our theological name. Both are about love and beauty exploding outward in all directions. Creation is indeed the Body of God! What else could it be, when you think of it?

In Jesus, this eternal omnipresence had a precise, concrete, and personal referent. God’s presence became more obvious and believable in the world. But this apparition only appeared in the last ten seconds of December 31, as it were—scaling the universe’s entire history to a single year. Was God saying nothing and doing nothing for 13.8 billion years? Our code word for that infinite saying and doing was the “Eternal Christ.” (See John 1:1-5, Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:9-12 if you think this is some new idea.)

Vague belief and spiritual intuition became specific and concrete and personal in Jesus—with a “face” that we could “hear, see, and touch” (1 John 1:1). The formless now had a personal form, according to Christian belief.

But it seems we so fell in love with this personal interface with Jesus that we forgot about the Eternal Christ, the Body of God, which is all of creation, which is really the “First Bible.” Jesus and Christ are not exactly the same. In the early Christian era, only a few Eastern Fathers (such as Origen of Alexandria and Maximus the Confessor) cared to notice that the Christ was clearly historically older, larger, and different than Jesus himself. They mystically saw that Jesus is the union of human and divine in space and time, and the Christ is the eternal union of matter and Spirit from the beginning of time.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, we’re believing in something much bigger than just the historical incarnation that we call Jesus. Jesus is just the visible map. The entire sweep of the meaning of the Anointed One, the Christ, includes us and includes all of creation since the beginning of time. Revelation was geological, physical, and nature-based before it was ever personal and fully relational (see Romans 1:20).

Gateway to Silence:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

References:
[1] Sue Woodruff, Meditations with Mechtild of Magdeburg (Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Co., 1982), 46.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Cosmic Christ, discs 1 & 2 (CAC: 2009), CD, MP3 download; and
Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 185, 210, 222.

Image description: Whirlpool Galaxy: The crossed pattern within the nucleus of M51 indicating two dust rings around the black hole at the center of the nebula. Credit: NASA/ESA

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