Christmas: God Dawning in the Tenderness of the Flesh of the World.
Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18
ecstasy of senses.
God, dawning in the flesh,
shattering the illusion of sovereignty,
weakening our pretension of separation,
slipping through the fingers of comprehension,
intensifying the pangs of matter.
Every moment a wonder,
a crack, a birth,
a threshold to broader,
God dawning in the tenderness of the flesh of the world.
Meister Eckhart reminds us that no matter how many Christmases we celebrate, unless we constantly conceive God in ourselves, giving birth to Christ through our births, rebirths, and breakthroughs, nothing relevant will occur in our life.
In the same way, John’s prologue urges us to expose ourselves to the fueling light that emanates from Jesus Christ, reminding us that he is, by God from the beginning, the original blessing of the world. In a penetrating intuition, the Evangelist contemplates the Source continually wording and weaving the texture of matter with a love-shaped intention that we call Christ,
The fundamental reality out of which everything else has emerged.
Meister Eckhart, John, and contemporary science awaken us to a world that is a continuous birthing process. We are all linked by cosmic consanguinity from the first particles to the stars, from the solar system to Earth with all her creatures, and each of us gathered here.
From the inception, the creative Spirit is entangled with matter in an adventurous and risky drama, open to more being and consciousness. Christmas is our liturgical celebration that the whole creation is pregnant with God, that there is no separation but rather a synergy.
John invites us to contemplate the genesis of the cosmos, which is at the same time the genesis of Christ, the love-shaped desire co-creating with God from the commencement, becoming flesh in the vulnerable body of Jesus, and yet – paradoxically – the wellspring of life eternal.
In my reading, I was particularly interested in the dynamic polarity that enlivens the entire fourth gospel and that I believe reveals what Christmas means for John.
According to the fourth gospel, Jesus marks a leap, an intensification from bios to zoè – both words, in Greek, mean ‘life.’
Bios expresses the survival drive by which life keeps itself alive through nourishment, self-defense, reproduction, blood ties, group identification. It describes repetitive and assuring patterns that may generate fear, bigotry, possession, violence, exclusion.
Zoè, on the other hand, evokes the experience of being part of a greater Whole, cooperating with the creative force of God as an overflowing and gratuitous Energy.
All the characters and events displayed by John’s gospel are appealed to enter the light of Zoè, the irreducible power of love inaugurated by Jesus. He makes God’s compassion tangible to us.
Think of the invitation to Nicodemus to be born anew, to the living waters promised to the Samaritan woman, the eyes opened of a blind man, the transformation of bios/water into zoè/wine.
Ultimately, Zoè, eternal life, fully blossoms in the capacity to lay down one’s own life in favor of others. Christmas entirely unfolds into the Paschal Mystery, where Love’s light endures darkness and constraint and transforms them from the inside, opening unexpected possibilities.
Today we are experiencing the powers of darkness in many ways, through the growth of authoritarian personalities and regimes, the devastation of the planet, the rejection of migrants, racial and economic divisiveness, the obsession with profit.
Yes, we find ourselves in a wounded and endangered world. Still, at the same time, we are experiencing exceeding love that is resilient, creative, and generating other ways of being, a new world where inclusivity, justice, mercy, compassion, and interdependence of planetary life blossom. We are called to enter Zoé, eternal life, responding with cooperation, empathy, and trust.
For the Franciscan theologian Ilia Delio, our contribution to a universe in evolution in Christ means birthing love into a greater unity, pointing the way to something more than ourselves, something up ahead that we are now participating in.
All we long for is already present: all we hope for has already arrived, but it is not yet complete; it is open to further birth. Let’s awaken to what God is doing in us and what God is seeking to become in us, God’s love for us.
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