Jesus: Human and Divine
If Jesus is at once God and human, that means as believers we cannot refer to Jesus as God without qualifying that: “God in human form.” We also cannot refer to Jesus as human only without qualifying that: “the human incarnation of God.” —Amos Smith (Sunday)
Without the dynamic terms of incarnation being absolutely clear, Jesus remained only Divine, and we remained only human, thus confusing, severely limiting, and diminishing the very process of redemption. (Monday)
Without the contemplative mind, humans—even Christians—revel in dualisms and do not understand the dynamic unity between seeming opposites. The Jesus Paradox (i.e., Jesus being at once God and human) was meant to teach and exemplify this union. (Tuesday)
Matter and Spirit must be recognized as inseparable in Christ before we have the courage and insight to acknowledge and honor the same in ourselves and in the entire universe. Jesus is the Archetype of Everything. (Wednesday)
For Francis of Assisi, incarnation was already redemption. For God to become a human being among the poor, born in a stable among the animals, meant that it’s good to be a human being, that flesh is good, and that the world is good—in its most simple and humble forms. (Thursday)
Francis of Assisi emphasized an imitation and love of the humanity of Jesus, without needing to first “prove” or worship his divinity (which Jesus never told us to do). (Friday)
Practice: Embodied Contemplation
Within Western Christianity, the body’s sensations, needs, and longings are often suppressed. I wonder if this might be related to our difficulty putting Jesus’—and our own—humanity and divinity together. Many churches emphasize mental beliefs and worded prayer while discouraging dance, yoga, or other forms of embodied prayer.
The renewed interest in Christian meditation, Centering Prayer, and other forms of silent prayer has helped many people open their hearts to God’s presence. I want to emphasize that contemplation can be experienced in a variety of ways; it simply requires keeping heart, mind, and body open all at once. Silence and solitude may not always be what we most need.
Some of us learned to cope with abuse or trauma by shutting down our body’s awareness and expression. Part of the healing process is listening to the body’s messages in safe environments, perhaps with the support of a counselor or spiritual director.
I invite you to explore some form of physical movement as contemplative practice today. Here are just a few examples: walking, dancing, stretching, singing, drumming. As you move, turn your attention to different sensations and parts of your body. You might choose to notice just one element—like your breathing or your feet—for the entire practice, or change focus every few minutes. If your mind starts to wander, return your attention to physical sensation.
We are not simply souls having a spiritual experience, but physical beings whose very breath is given by the Divine. In order to incarnate God, we are called to be fully human. We are humus—of the Earth, soil, ground.
For Further Study:
Amos Smith, Healing the Divide: Recovering Christianity’s Mystic Roots (Resource Publications: 2013)
Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Sounds True: 2010), CD
Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014)