Understanding incarnation and Jesus as Christ, tackling privilege and not privileging our group

December 30, 2018

This next year, keeping in mind both the 1.5 C report, ongoing faith reflection and response, and the upcoming Amazonian synod, we will add reflections on privilege, extractivism and a self-advantaging or profit orientation vs. an emphasis on dignity, rights and resources for all and the paths necessary to achieve that.  Reflections will consider the signs of the times and our tradition up through recent statements, such as Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato Si’, as well as ways forward.  

Just before the Forum on Indigenous Issues met in New York, Pope Francis held the preparatory meeting for his October 2019 Synod on the Amazon region. For two solid days in April 2018, he listened to the suffering of the “lungs of the planet” and its people. Brought to the UN by REPAM (a Jesuit NGO) and hosted by Benincasa, some of them travelled to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) April 16-27. They added their stories to this year’s theme: Indigenous Peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories, and “resources.”  There is a strong connection to climate change.  Lands owned and managed by indigenous people much more effectively protect all life and avoid or limit extractivist destruction of our Mother/Sister Earth and Common Home.

In faith and hope, your sister in the movement,

— Marie V.

Excerpt from Fr. Richard Rohr, Dec 2018

It is of no use to anybody if Christianity is just a museum or an antique shop where we prefer to collect old things for their own sake. Yet we can rediscover many good old things that are perennially valuable. We would be foolish to reject them.

My life and the Center for Action and Contemplation’s work are guided by eight core principles. [1] The first might surprise some of you: The teaching of Jesus is our central reference point. We all need a North Star to orient us toward meaning and purpose. As a Christian and Franciscan, for me that is Jesus, who revealed the Eternal Christ. Over the next several weeks we’ll become better acquainted with Jesus, whom Christians believe is the totally inclusive “Child of God” who includes all of us in his cosmic sweep. He is the Includer, and we are the included. We’ll then spend some time looking at Christ, the eternal, ongoing union of human and divine, present in and evolving all of Creation since the beginning of time, who moves that inclusion to everything in the Universe.

Because Christianity is the path I love and know best, I teach primarily through this lens. However, the Center’s fifth principle—We will support true authority, the ability to ‘author’ life in others, regardless of the group—points to the Perennial Tradition. If it’s true, it’s always been true; truth simply shows up in various ages and cultures through different vocabulary and images. Throughout the world’s religions and philosophies, recurring themes point to humanity’s longing for union with Divine Reality. There are many paths to union.  You may ask, why does Jesus say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6)? For now, I’ll simply say that Jesus is not talking about joining or privileging any group; he is describing the way by which all religions must allow matter and spirit to operate as one, which indeed is the universal way for all people.

As we’ll see, Jesus revealed a God who is in total solidarity with humanity, even and most especially in its suffering. Shane Claiborne writes, “Jesus came to show us what God is like in a way we can touch and follow. Jesus is the lens through which we look at the Bible and the world; everything is fulfilled in Christ. There are plenty of things I still find baffling, . . . but then I look at Christ, and I get a deep assurance that God is good, and gracious, and not so far away.” [2] Let’s be honest: that is all we need to move forward.