Christ Since the Beginning
In the Beginning
Monday, February 18, 2019
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. —Genesis 1:1-3, Jerusalem Bible
When Christians hear the word “incarnation,” most of us think about the birth of Jesus who personally demonstrated God’s radical unity with humanity. But I want to suggest that the first Incarnation was the moment described in Genesis 1, when God joined in unity with the physical universe and became the light inside of everything. (This, I believe, is why light is the subject of the first day of creation.)
In the beginning was the Cosmic Blueprint (“Logos”), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. —John 1:1-5
If you can overlook how John uses a masculine pronoun to describe something that is clearly beyond gender, you can see that he is giving us a sacred cosmology and not just a theology (see John 1:1-18). Long before Jesus’ personal Incarnation, Christ was deeply embedded in all things—as all things! The first lines of the Bible say that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” or the “formless void,” and immediately the material universe became fully visible in its depths and meaning (Genesis 1:1-3). The Christ Mystery is the New Testament’s attempt to name this visibility or see-ability that occurred on the first day.
Remember, light is not so much what you directly see as that by which you see everything else. This is why in John’s Gospel, Jesus Christ makes the almost boastful statement, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). Jesus Christ is the amalgam of matter and spirit put together in one place, so we ourselves can put it together in all places and enjoy things in their fullness. It can even enable us to see as God sees, if that is not hoping for too much.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 12-14.