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The DNA of Creation

Giving Birth to Christ

The DNA of Creation
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Second Sunday of Advent

We Franciscans believe that the first coming of “the Christ” is in creation itself. The Franciscan philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus (1266‒1308), whom I studied for four years, wrote that “God first wills Christ as his supreme work.” [1] Creation could not have been empty of Christ for billions of years. In other words, God’s “first idea” and priority was to make the Godself both visible and shareable. The word used in the Bible for this idea was Logos (from Greek philosophy), which I would translate as the “Blueprint” or Primordial Pattern for reality. The whole of creation is the beloved community, the partner in the divine dance. Everything is the “child of God”—not only Jesus. There are no exceptions. When you think of it, what else could anything be? All creation must in some way carry the divine DNA of the Creator.

At Christmastime, most people think about the birth of the baby Jesus as the “coming” of Christ. Yet Advent reveals more; it is about preparing ourselves for the Christ to come in personal, contracted, and visible form. Only a perfect, trusting individual could allow such greatness to focus and communicate through a human body. Modeling the entire divine pattern of incarnation, Mary had to trust littleness or, better said, bigness becoming littleness! Go imagine.

Mary could trustingly carry Jesus, because she knew how to receive spiritual gifts—in fact, the spiritual gift. She offers a profound image of how generativity and fruitfulness break into this world. We have much to learn from her.

First, we learn that we can’t manage, maneuver, or manipulate spiritual energy. It is a matter of letting go and receiving what is given freely. It is the gradual emptying of our attachment to our small “separate” self so that there is room for new conception and new birth. There must be some displacement before there can be any new “replacement”! Mary is the archetype of such self-displacement and surrender.

There is no mention of any moral worthiness, achievement, or preparedness in Mary, only humble trust and surrender. She gives us all, therefore, a bottomless hope in our own little state. If we ourselves try to “manage” God or manufacture our own worthiness by any performance principle whatsoever, we will never give birth to the Christ, but only more of ourselves.

Whenever the material and the spiritual coincide, there is the Christ. Jesus fully accepted that human-divine identity and walked it into history. Henceforth, the Christ “comes again” whenever we are able to see the spiritual and the material coexisting, in any moment, in any event, and in any person. All matter reveals Spirit, and Spirit needs matter to “show itself”! What I like to call the “Forever Coming of Christ” happens whenever and wherever we allow this to be utterly true for us. This is how God continually breaks into history.

References:
[1] See Carlo Balić, “Scotism,” Encyclopedia of Theology: A Concise Sacramentum Mundi, ed. Karl Rahner (Burns and Oates, Ltd.: 1975), 1548.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 22;

Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent (Franciscan Media: 2008), 31–32; and

The Cosmic Christ, disc 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2009), CD, MP3 download.

Image Credit: Abiding Love (detail of triptych), Janet McKenzie, copyright ©2019.www.janetmckenzie.com
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Mary could trustingly carry Jesus, because she knew how to receive spiritual gifts, in fact the spiritual gift. She offers a profound image of how generativity and fruitfulness break into this world. We have much to learn from her. —Richard Rohr
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