Incarnation: Week 2
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Resurrection is simply incarnation come to its logical, certain, and full conclusion. It demonstrates, for those who are ready to see, that this world, this flesh, this physicality is part of the eternal truth and forever matters to God. The early church seemed to get this movement of incarnation as the pathway to divinization much more than we have in later centuries. Read, for example, St. Irenaeus and St. Athanasius in their classic texts from the second and fourth centuries. Irenaeus said, “Jesus Christ became what we are that we might become what he himself is.” Athanasius, who is called the Father of Orthodoxy, put it similarly: “For he was made man that we might be made God.”
Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we are God. We can’t live up to that, and we don’t want to have to live up to that. I am not saying, “We are the Divine One,” however, I am saying that we participate in a very real and objective way in the Divine. That’s the whole point of religion: to let us know that what we are drawing upon is already planted within us. We don’t create it by good moral behavior or by going to church on Sunday. We may awaken it that way, but we don’t self-create it.
Resurrection is saying that matter and spirit have been working together from the first moment of the Big Bang and they are moving toward a positive consummation. Frankly, Christians should have been leading the way in all notions of evolution. It is sadly revealing that we often opposed it instead, showing there was no active sense of the Indwelling Holy Spirit, especially among many fundamentalists who talk about the Holy Spirit the most. Theirs is still a static and inanimate universe and God is still “out there”!
Resurrection is not a one-time miracle to be proven; it is a manifestation of the wholeness that we are all meant to experience, even in this world. Eternal life is not “chronological moments of endless duration” but time as momentous and revealing the whole right now. When “time comes to a fullness” (e.g., Mark 1:15, Galatians 4:4, Ephesians 1:10) as in moments of love, childbirth, union, death, prayer, or exquisite beauty, you have experienced a moment of eternal life. Without such moments, it will either be very hard for you to imagine resurrection or, conversely, you will long for it like no one else, which is surely the meaning of the virtue of hope.
The Risen Christ is the standing icon of humanity in its final and full destiny. He is the pledge and guarantee of what God will do with all of our oppressions, abuses, and crucifixions. This, frankly, allows us to live with hope, purpose, and direction. It is no longer an absurd or tragic universe. Our hurts now become the home for our greatest hopes. Without such implanted hope, it is likely that we will be cynical, bitter, and tired by the second half of our lives. I am afraid this is much of Western civilization, which feels very tired and even in love with futility and death. The amount of mental and emotional illness, addiction, anger, depression, and basic unhappiness is the price we are paying for living in such an empty and meaningless world. The soul cannot live without purpose and meaning.
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), 83-84;