Tag Archives: Incarnation

November 7, Jesus Beyond Dogma II: vii – “Christ is everything and is in everything”


The Incarnation means God identifying with the human species. There is the Christic structure in all of us. Everything is open to infinite growth because God’s being, in whose image we are created, is love, communication, infinite openness. This total communication is called “Son” or “Word” in God. It means that creation possesses the structure of the Son in as much as everything communicates itself, maintains an external relationship, and realises itself by self-giving. The Son is active in the world from the very moment of creation. This activity becomes concentrated when the Word became flesh in Jesus and finally spread throughout the cosmos through the Resurrection: “Christ is everything and is in everything“- Colossians 1.17.

It took concrete form in Jesus because he, from all eternity, was thought of and loved as the focal being in which God would be totally manifested outside God. The Incarnation finishes the complete inter-weaving of God and humankind, in a total unity. Jesus is the exemplar of what will happen to all human beings and the totality of creation. He is the future already realised.

Again, in the Book of Genesis, God gives us the task of naming Creation for God, and tells us that is the name by which it will be known. Considering our track record, it seems that God was backing a loser! Unless – God always intended to become part of Creation. But looking around at the mess the world is in – the fear, the evil, the injustice, the abuse – we could be excused for asking will it ever happen, will Creation ever achieve its purpose of becoming one with the divine?

It already has achieved its purpose – in Jesus we have what is uncreated and what is created totally one. What is in Jesus will be in the rest of Creation by the way those who believe actually live in the world. I used to wonder about all the names we are supposed to think up to name Creation for God, until I found Francis of Assisi – and he tells us the names by which Creation is known are sister and brother, because God is Abba for all of us, through friar Christ.

The coming of Jesus marks not the beginning of a uniquely divine enterprise but its completion. Chardin points out that in the biological part of our existence we could not evolve much further, God has achieved what God set out to achieve; and the coming of God among us in the biological embodiment of Jesus affirms this.

But Jesus is more than a biological creature; as divine he is the transforming of the biological state into which humans will now evolve – with new powers of mind and spirit – which reaches its highest expression in Jesus Risen. To reduce the human story to the past 2000 years diminishes God’s role in the whole creation story. Putting Jesus on a divine pedestal leaves no room for a radically new way of being human.



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August 12: Grace is given unawares and unearned and everywhere: A Franciscan Revolution People.


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6 June, Year of Mercy: Not by Conflict but by Encounter!

Rood: Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Cambridge. MMB.

mercylogoWe need to be moved to look into the depths of conscience and listen to that word which says: Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation. Look upon your brother’s sorrow and do not add to it, stay your hand, rebuild the harmony that has been shattered; and all this achieved not by conflict but by encounter!

War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity. Let the words of Pope Paul VI resound again: “No more one against the other, no more, never! … War never again, never again war!” (Address to the United Nations, 1965). Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace for Syria, the Middle East, and the whole world!

The boundary set for evil is divine mercy – Jesus is mercy in person. To meet Christ is to meet mercy – who sees me sees the Father. Justice is never the foundation for mercy – simply love. Sadly, in the theological manuals mercy was relegated to a footnote – mercy is concerned with the justification of the sinner not the sin! Divine Mercy, of course, is the unconditional love of God seen from the point of view of the sinner. It is the fidelity of the love of God. This is the Good News of the Gospel.

First of all there is the Incarnation, which we celebrate at Christmas. Though he was God he emptied himself, becoming like unto us in all things but sin. He became obedient to death on the cross as we see during Holy Week. John said, “Greater love than this no one has that he lay down his life for his friend.” Paul said that there is an even greater love and that is when we lay down our life not for our friend but for our enemy. And he reminds us that we were sinners when Jesus died for us. And there is an even greater love than this and that is that after having given his life for his enemy he offers it again in the Eucharist to be rejected and crucified again.

Jesus said that he came not for the just but for the sinner. He ate and drank with sinners. He forgave sins and delegated that same power to his apostles. He taught the parables of the lost coin, the Good Shepherd, and the prodigal son, all of which tell us that the Divine Mercy is not “the pardon of a judge, but the embrace of a lover.”



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May 27th 2016: Personhood V.

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We are exploring the notion of personhood and its relationship to love.  Yesterday, we asked how we can be united to others without losing our identity?   Today we will explore this by looking at our union with Christ.

We are united to Christ though love – his love for us first, and our response.  By love, we choose independently to unite ourselves to the loved one.  We do not lose our independence; rather we express it through our free choice to give ourself to the other and receive the other into ourself.  This is what Christ did in becoming man.  It is an unfathomable mystery, but nonetheless true: he became man and in so doing, he chose freely to share his very being with us.  Since his resurrection and ascension, this takes place sacramentally, through Baptism and the Eucharist; but we are not meant to be passive recipients of this great gift.  Love engenders a response and we respond to the love of Christ for us by our life of prayer and faith – and simply by giving our whole selves to him.  In this way we grow in our relationship with him and realise ever more fully that in his birth we are born; with his life we live; and in his death we die.  We exist authentically as persons with a vital interior life because and by means of his love for us.  The French Jesuit Henri de Lubac (1896 – 1991), one of the great theologians of the twentieth century, says simply: ‘We are fully persons only within the Person of the Son.  He will never cease to make us complete, to make us persons in himself.’




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19th March – The Incarnation is not Done and Dusted.


Altar Crucifix, St Mary Magdalene, Davington, Kent.

The Incarnation is not an event that happened 2000 years ago and is done and dusted. It belongs at the heart of Creation which is continuously unfolding. The Incarnation is as much about the presence of God in Creation as it is about God present in Jesus. The world is essentially Christic in structure. The invitation from God to share intimacy has been heard and accepted in Jesus. There is a potential within the human to blossom into intimacy with God – something which Jesus releases through his Spirit: Father into your hands I commend my Spirit – is the completion – a human life from birth to death lived as intended and there for all to embrace. The human is essentially Christic, before and after the Incarnation.

With this available to all, without exception, why so much self-doubt, so much fear because of unworthiness. In my 80’s, reasonably sound in wind and limb, blessed by experiences of friendship – so, why so much fear? Have I thanked my body for carrying me through life? I’ve had complaints and grumbles, but I am alive – and the limitations are largely self-imposed through my determination to do it my way.

The harbinger of so much fear is sister death waiting in the wings, and who robs us of those near and dear to us. It is not helpful to try to ameliorate this with expressions like – she has not gone far, simply into another room… The dead are removed from surface sight, now – with considerable bereavement – into somewhere deeper inside where intimacy belongs, and where intimacy is experienced differently: to be missed is to be loved… Are they dead to us but alive elsewhere? What did Jesus mean: it is good for you that I go and from OT I mean to save you from your graves and lead you back to the soil of Israel?


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March 18th – Does this make God too human?



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York Minster: Mary meets Jesus, the Gardener 

Does this make God too human? We need to allow God to be extravagant; indeed through the Incarnation we and all creation are saturated with God – so much so that we can’t avoid meeting! This is not adding God to our list of experiences, rather is it our actual experiencing itself of God. If we can’t see God everywhere, we can’t expect to see God when we gather for worship and celebration.

The ordinary gift of enjoying life [I’ve come that you might have life in abundance] is waiting for our risking what it takes. This is really Mysticism – the search for real presence hidden in everyday things, waiting to be uncovered through fascination. Divine Providence does not so much protect us from evil, but to realize that the evil results from desiring something good – albeit misguided. God’s love for you is no greater in heaven than it is already now [Aquinas].

What does sin look like? It is blind to beauty, by-passes goodness in its many forms and lacks imagination. Sin sees no joy in honest creativity and replaces trust with cynicism. Sin is much more than lots of sins; it is an attitude of refusal to recognize value in self-giving and goodness. Sin drains, has no life and surrenders to self-hate, and shadows every experience with fear and cynicism; it despises enjoyment for enjoyment’s sake and doesn’t bless or give thanks.



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17th March – The human is now at home in the divine



NASA image.

Grace is our gifted birth right to live within creation being fully alive. Creation’s history has never known a graceless time. The genuinely human is now at home in the divine – which is how our liturgy concludes prayer with through Jesus… This began with Creation and is completed through the Incarnation. It is often asked: What was God doing before Creation? Augustine answers by pointing out that time and space began with Creation – there was no before or after.

S Francis knew that if you accept that the finite can express the infinite [Jesus as a baby makes the all of God present] and the physical is the door into the spiritual – e.g. the Incarnation, then all that we need is now – when this is the way to that. Heaven includes earth, time leads to the timeless. There is no sacred and secular, only sacred and desecrated things which we desecrate by doing it my way. There is but one Creation.

The abstract doesn’t get us very far, yet sadly so much religion is ideology rather than a real awareness of presence. Yet we can only start from where we are. As Pope Francis said: all people all over the world are rejecting an ideological [from the top down] form of religion, to recapture the way of Jesus. But our lack of fascination turns us away from this. To be fascinated is to be taken out of oneself for a moment – to transcend self; which is permanent in God who is totally transcendent. To be fascinated is to taste something of God.

All being can speak with one voice – what Duns Scotus called the univocity of being. What I am, you are also: Creation is a symphony of mutual sympathy; which compelled Augustine to sum it up with: In the end there is only Christ loving himself. God is not out there until we first experience God in here. Francis sought to appreciate this with the heartfelt plea: Who are you, God and who am I? When created and uncreated are totally one this is the Grace of being fully alive. Everything being itself enjoys what happened in Jesus being fully himself – God is present.


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16th March – Love takes faith out of the reach of doctrine and precept



Caernarfon MMB.

St John [15.9] urges us to remain in love; remain in beauty, in peace. in tranquillity… this takes faith living out of the reach of doctrine and precept. This same experience changes wherever love is missing; and our appreciation of the underpinning goodness of Creation urges us, in the words of Bonaventure – wherever you see good – celebrate it; wherever you see goodness broken – repair it; wherever goodness is missing – bring it with you!

All very well, but what has happened to Original Sin, whose effects we see in abundance through violence, injustice and terrorism..? There are some unreal people around – those who can say isn’t life beautiful, everything is full of wonder… Not so. Life is messy – shot through with good and bad, so much so that we need to locate where we are. Far from asserting that everything is all right – everything is not all right, but that is all right!

The Incarnation holds the key – this Hypostatic Union is how God is present in Creation, and so Grace is ever and always available to us. Life is Grace, it is freely given without charge or mortgage, it is there to be enjoyed. This is Jesus’ mission to urge us and to make it possible for us to live well, to enjoy the journey… from such limited living will eternal life emerge. Life leads us to God, and the quality of living provides intimacy with God throughout the journey. So we can anticipate the arrival home with all the enthusiasm proper to eager travellers. Original Sin intrudes and handicaps this through ungracious living.




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14th March – Jesus is God saying this is who I am for you

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The Incarnation is not a result of God’s first aid kit; but God could not have created beings mercylogoequal to God, the essence of God is total transcendence; it is much more than God being primus inter pares but in becoming “equal” to us, in emptying himself, Christ claims equality with us in such a way that we have equality with him, through intimacy. God’s presence is throughout creation, but only in the human heart is this presence able to be experienced as intimate. Mercy and justice have met, peace and goodness have embraced in a way infinitely more profound than simply seeing it as “putting things right”. Jesus is God saying this is who I am for you – simply another way of saying I love you.

Modern advertising makes offers of things good for us – but always end with that ungodly statement – conditions apply! Everything in God is whole and total. God never applies conditions. Some ask, why does God allow suffering, injustice and inhumanity? If God wants us to say a valued yes to what is offered there must be possibility of saying no. We turned away – whether through embarrassment – they hid because they were naked – or through a blunt no thanks! We turned our back and walked away. But we cannot walk away from God; instead of my seeing God in front of me what I long for with 320px-Hunt_Light_of_the_World[1]all my heart; God is seeing me as the apple of his eye, and so follows me into my sin and selfishness – behold I stand and knock [Holman Hunt] – waiting for when God gets through to me with the concern: you are much better than this! Hearing this and taking it in is the first stage of repentance – it is turning and going home. In everyday terms it is wanting to experience love as forgiveness and celebrate it through an invitation [inner awareness of wanting to go] to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Part of the Good News is all humans – who share the humanity of Christ, and now share his divinity – are so destined. We start by letting the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus be itself and not what we make of it. Being human is the key letting us into experiencing being loved by God and wanting to say thank-you, aware that we already belong before ever we did anything about it. As Scripture says in God we live and move and have our being which is the activity of the Spirit poured into our hearts. For as long as we are turned away from the truth of the Incarnation – to that extent will Creation remain an unfinished symphony.


Light of the World by William Holman Hunt at – http://www.bg-blog.ru/comments.php?id=555 in public domain.


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13th March – Revelation lets us into the love story between God and Creation

Forget-me-nots by the Forth and Clyde Canal, and in Lincoln Cathedral, MMB

God became as we are so that we can become as God is! But what have we done about this? We ignored the fact that we do not just need God’s Word, but also God’s meaning of God’s Word. What we have done is reduce it to a narrow and legalistic encounter between God and Humankind – keeping them apart from each other.

The Incarnation became an emergency service, a rescue operation; Jesus’ death was part of a bargain. This happened because of the mistaken view that the Incarnation happened because of sin. Instead of an awareness of God in the very heart of Creation, there has been concern [albeit unintentional] to keep Nature and Grace apart from each other; with negative consequences for understanding Church and Sacraments.

Thank God the time is now here when we can accept Revelation for what it is and not for what we make of it. Revelation lets us into the love story between God and Creation, through God’s determination to become one among us. Our basic humanity is the raw material for noticing this presence among us. It starts from appreciating human history as Original Grace and not Original Sin. In other words, God is totally with us in Jesus: this is who I am for you.


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