by mvenner | Feb 28, 2019 | Blog
Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM
Inseparable, Thursday, February 28, 2019
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:38-39, New Living Translation
Did you ever notice that Jesus tells the disciples to proclaim the Good News to “all creation” or “every creature” (Mark 16:15), and not just to humans? Paul affirms that he has done this very thing when he says, “Never let yourself drift away from the hope promised by the Good News, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become the servant” (Colossians 1:23). Did he really talk to and convince “every creature under heaven” in his short lifetime? Surely not, but Paul knew that he had announced to the world the deepest philosophical ground of things by saying that it all was in Christ—and he daringly believed that this truth would eventually stick and succeed.
I have never been separate from God, nor can I be, except in my mind. I would love for you to bring this realization to loving consciousness! In fact, why not stop reading now and just breathe and let it sink in? It is crucial that you know this experientially and at a cellular level—which is, in fact, a real way of knowing just as much as rational knowing. Its primary characteristic is that it is nondual and thus an open-ended consciousness, which does not close down so quickly and so definitively as dualistic thought does.
Regrettably, Christians have not protected this radical awareness of oneness with the divine. Paul’s brilliant understanding of a Corporate Christ, and thus our cosmic identity, was soon lost as early Christians focused more and more on Jesus alone and even apart from the Eternal Flow of the Trinity, which is theologically unworkable. Christ forever keeps Jesus firmly inside the Trinity, not a later add-on or a somewhat arbitrary incarnation. Trinitarianism keeps God as Relationship Itself from the very beginning, and not a mere divine monarch.
Paul summarizes his corporate understanding of salvation with his shorthand phrase “en Cristo,” using it more than any single phrase in all of his letters (over 100 times). En Cristo seems to be Paul’s code phrase for the gracious, participatory experience of salvation “from the beginning” (see Ephesians 1:3-12), the path that he so urgently wanted to share with the world. Succinctly put, this identity means humanity has never been separate from God—unless and except by its own negative choice. All of us, without exception, are living inside of a cosmic identity, already in place, that is drawing and guiding us forward. We are all en Cristo, willingly or unwillingly, happily or unhappily, consciously or unconsciously.
Paul seemed to understand that the lone individual was far too small, insecure, and short-lived to bear either the “weight of glory” or the “burden of sin.” Only the whole could carry such a mystery of constant loss and renewal. Paul’s knowledge and experience of “in Christ” allowed him to give God’s universal story a name, a focus, a love, and a certain victorious direction so that coming generations could trustingly jump on this cosmic and collective ride.
I hope that Christians will come to enjoy the full meaning of that short, brilliant phrase, because it is crucial for the future of Christianity, which is still trapped in a highly individualistic notion of salvation that ends up not looking much like salvation at all. Paul calls this bigger divine identity the “mystery of his purpose, the hidden plan he so kindly made in Christ from the very beginning” (see Ephesians 1:9-10).
Every single creature—the teen mother nursing her child, every one of the twenty thousand species of butterflies, an immigrant living in fear, a blade of grass, you reading this meditation—all are “in Christ” and “chosen from the beginning” (Ephesians 1:3-4, 9-10). What else could they be? Salvation for Paul is an ontological and cosmological message (which is solid) before it ever becomes a moral or psychological one (which is always unstable). Pause and give that some serious thought.
Sunday, March 3, 2019
As I shared earlier, the prologue to John’s Gospel gives us a wonderful vision of the Christ Mystery.  John uses the word Logos, which I take to mean blueprint. It is the inner pattern of reality, revealed in Jesus and in creation. Let’s take a closer look:
In the beginning was the blueprint. The blueprint was with God. The blueprint was God. And all things came to be through this inner plan. [The inner reality of God is manifest in the outer material world. That is why we can consider creation to be the Body of God.] No one thing came to be except through this blueprint and plan. All that came to be had life in him. [Now it’s become personalized: in him, in Jesus. So, this great universal mystery since the beginning of time now becomes specific in the body and the person of Jesus. The blueprint has become personified and visible.] And that life was the light of humanity (John 1: 1-3).
At the Last Supper, when Jesus held up the bread and spoke the words “This is my Body,” I believe he was speaking not just about the bread right in front of him, but about the whole universe, about every thing that is physical, material, and yet also spirit-filled. His assertion and Christians’ repetition resound over all creation before they also settle into one piece of bread to be shared. The bread and wine, and all of creation, seem to believe who and what they are much more readily than humans do. They know they are the Body of Christ, even if many Homo sapiens resist and even deny such a thought. When celebrants speak these sacred words at the altar, they are speaking them to both the bread and the congregation—so they can carry it “to all of creation” (Mark 16:16). As St. Augustine (354–430 CE) preached, we must feed the Body of Christ to the people of God until they know that they are what they eat! 
We also are the Body of Christ, as is all of the universe. The Apostle Paul used a perfect metaphor: “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. . . . Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27). I love to think of every flowing stream, every waterfall, and every river as “baptizing” the physical universe, washing away its inability to know how glorious it is.
The entire biblical revelation is gradually developing a very different consciousness, a recreated self, and eventually a full “identity transplant” or identity realization, as we see in both Jesus and Paul. As Paul writes, “I live no longer, not I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). (Sunday)
After transformation, we don’t look out at reality as if it is hidden in the distance. We look out from reality! Our life is participating in God’s Life. We are living in Christ. (Monday)
Paul took incarnationalism to its universal and logical conclusions. We see that in his bold exclamation: “There is only Christ. He is everything and he is in everything” (Colossians 3:11). (Tuesday)
All of us, without exception, are living inside of a cosmic identity, already in place, that is drawing and guiding us forward. We are all en Cristo, willingly or unwillingly, happily or unhappily, consciously or unconsciously. (Wednesday)
I have never been separate from God, nor can I be, except in my mind. Bring this realization to loving consciousness! (Thursday)
Only with a notion of the Preexisting Christ can we recover where this Jesus was “coming from” and where he is leading us—which is precisely into the “bosom of the Trinity” (see John 1:18). “I shall return to take you with me, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:3), the Christ has promised. (Friday)