God’s Most Distressing Disguise

Bias from the Bottom: Week 1

God’s Most Distressing Disguise
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

In Jesus we have an almost extreme example of God taking sides. It starts with one who empties himself of all divinity (see Philippians 2:6-7), comes as a homeless baby in a poor family, then a refugee in a foreign country, then an invisible carpenter in his own country which is colonized and occupied by an imperial power, ending as a “criminal,” accused and tortured by heads of both systems of power, temple and empire, abandoned by most of his inner circle, subjected to the death penalty by a most humiliating and bizarre public ritual, and finally buried quickly in an unmarked grave. If God in any way planned this story line, God surely intended the message to be subversive, clear, and unavoidable. Yet we largely made Jesus into a churchy icon that any priestly or policing establishment could gather around without even blushing.

Ilia Delio, a Franciscan scientist and theologian, challenges us to take the scandal and downward movement of the Incarnation quite seriously and to let it rearrange our priorities.

An incarnational bias is evident today in our globalized culture. The “problem” of immigrants, welfare recipients, incarcerated, mentally ill, . . . disabled, and all who are marginalized by mainstream society, is a problem of the incarnation. When we reject our relatedness to the poor, the weak, the simple, and the unlovable we define the family of creation over and against God. In place of God we decide who is worthy of our attention and who can be rejected. Because of our deep fears, we spend time, attention, and money on preserving our boundaries of privacy and increasing our knowledge and power. We hermetically seal ourselves off from the undesired “other,” the stranger, and in doing so, we seal ourselves off from God. By rejecting God in the neighbor, we reject the love that can heal us.

Until we come to accept created reality with all its limits and pains as the living presence of God, Christianity has nothing to offer to the world. It is sound bites of empty promises. When we lose the priority of God’s love in weak, fragile humanity, we lose the Christ, the foundation on which we stand as Christians.

Compassion continues the Incarnation by allowing the Word of God to take root within us, to be enfleshed in us. The Incarnation is not finished; it is not yet complete for it is to be completed in us. [1]

Gateway to Silence:
Humble me.

Reference:
[1] Ilia Delio, Compassion: Living in the Spirit of St. Francis, (Franciscan Media: 2011), 61.

Image Credit: Little Boy, Juarez, Mexico, 2009. CAC archives.

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