Monday, December 27, 2010

Feast of John the Evangelist: Visionary of a "Christic" Cosmos

The introductory lines of John's Gospel are totally unique in their fundamental approach to probing, exploring, and "mulling over" the mystery of Jesus Christ. John states, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be (John 1:1-3). Unlike the three "synoptic" Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke ("synoptic" implying a very close similarity in "viewing" and describing the life of Jesus, "syn" = one/oneness, "optic" = pertaining to the eye or vision), John's Gospel is far more developed in expressing the early Church's basic understanding of who Jesus was as Son of God and the wholly unique relationship of Jesus to God and Jesus to the Cosmos (or, the created world). This makes sense when we consider that the Gospel was written approximately thirty or more years after the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Therefore, what we read in John is not primarily about what Jesus did but about who Jesus was and who Jesus is in relation to God, the Church, and the cosmos/world. Hence, the above mentioned peculiar beginning to John's Gospel.

In the book, "Wind and Sea Obey Him: Approaches to a Theology of Nature", Robert Faricy, a Catholic professor of theology, makes an important and even fascinating distinction between the "Cosmic Christ" (St. Paul's approach to Jesus) and the "Christic Cosmos" (John the evangelist's approach). The "Cosmic Christ" of Paul refers to the "alluring" and "transforming" power of the Resurrected Jesus as he draws all things to himself in order to "sum them up" (i.e., bring them to fullness, completion, or consummation) and than unite them to God for all eternity (c.f., the following passages from Paul's letters for illustrations of the "Cosmic Christ": Romans, 8:21; Ephesians, 1:9-10; Colossians, 1:15-20; and 1 Cor. 15:27-28). John, on the other hand, views the cosmos as "Christic" in it's foundations and roots. This means that the entire creation, every atom, quark, black hole, solar system, and form of life is somehow "secretly" and "mysteriously" fashioned and formed after the "pattern" of God's Word.

For those who believe in a Triune God (God as a divinity of seamless "unity-in-diversity"), this is not so difficult to imagine: all elements that exist in the universe or cosmos are necessarily related (reflecting the relationship of God the Father and God the Son) and are likewise, in a very real way, "bonded" to each other - if nothing more than by virtue of sharing in some proximity of space, time, or both (reflecting God as Holy Spirit, or the "relational bond" between Father and Son). In other words, the entire universe or cosmos is "shot through" with the "rudimentary" structure and dynamics of the Father who expresses, the Son who is expressed, and the Spirit who brings fullness to the expression!

I know, I know, all of this may sound a bit esoteric and detached from everyday life! However, the implications of the above couldn't be more relevant and germane to all that makes up our day and our lives. When we strive to live with at least a basic faith awareness that all is grounded in Christ and is moving toward Christ, than every "ordinary" aspect, event, and detail of our lives can justifiably be viewed as having "extraordinary" potential meaning and meaningfulness: every jot, every tittle, and every iota of existence, especially human existence, is founded on Christ (or, founded on relationship, light, life, and love) and destined for Christ. This means that there isn't anything in our world or in our lives that cannot be taken into God and Christ through the Holy Spirit and "summed up" or "transformed" through the healing, reconciling, restoring, and transforming love of God. Pat, TOR