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Christ Means "Anointed"

We Are All Anointed by Spirit

Monday, April 8th, 2019

Christ Means “Anointed”

We Are All Anointed by Spirit
Monday, April 8, 2019

Remember that it is God who assures us all, and you, of our sure place in Christ and has anointed us, marked us with God’s seal, giving us the pledge, the Spirit, that we carry in our hearts. —2 Corinthians 1:21-22

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because God anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord. —Luke 4:18-19

We all know respect when we see it (re-spect = to see a second time). We all know reverence because it softens our gaze. Any object that calls forth respect or reverence is the “Christ” or the anointed one for us at that moment, even though the conduit might just look like a committed research scientist, an old man cleaning up the beach, a woman going the extra mile for her neighbor, an earnest, eager dog licking your face, or an ascent of pigeons across the plaza.

All people who see with that second kind of contemplative gaze, all who look at the world with respect, even if they are not formally religious, are en Cristo, or in Christ. For them, as Thomas Merton says, “the gate of heaven is everywhere” [1] because of their freedom to respect what is right in front of them—all the time.

The Christ Mystery anoints all physical matter with eternal purpose from the very beginning. We should not be surprised that the word translated from the Greek as “Christ” comes from the Hebrew word mesach, meaning “the anointed” one or Messiah. Christ reveals that all is anointed, not just him.

Many Christians are still praying and waiting for something that has already been given to us three times: first in creation; second in Jesus, “so that we could hear him, see him with our eyes, watch him, and touch him with our hands, the Word who is life” (see 1 John 1–2); and third, in the ongoing beloved community (what Christians call the unfolding Body of Christ or the Parousia—Growing Fullness), which is slowly evolving throughout all of human history (Romans 8:18). How can we participate in this Flow?

As Reverend Jacqui Lewis asks:

What if every human being is anointed, Messiahed, Christ? What if the most fundamental aspect of our identity is that we are each anointed and appointed by The Holy One, by Spirit—to preach good news to the poor, liberty to the captive, and sight to the blind? What if we take seriously being the Body of the Christ—that we are the hands, feet, and heartbeat of the Living God? What if we are Word made flesh, Love made flesh, Light made flesh? [2]

References:
[1] Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Doubleday:1966), 142.

[2] Jacqui Lewis, The Universal Christ conference description, https://cac.org/another-name-for-every-thing-the-universal-christ/.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 20, 119-120.

Image credit: Mary Magdalene’s Box of Very Precious Ointment (detail), James Tissot, 1886-1994, Brooklyn Museum, New York City, New York.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: If we are fully to avail ourselves of Mary Magdalene’s wisdom presence today, it will be, I believe, primarily through recovering a wisdom relationship with the ritual of anointing—that is, coming to understand it . . . as an act of conscious love marking the passageway into both physical and spiritual wholeness. —Cynthia Bourgeault
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