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Earth and the challenge of contemporary Christology
NewsNotes, May-June 2009

The following is taken from a presentation given by Sr. Ann Braudis, MM at the 2009 Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C.

Scientifically speaking, on the subatomic level, a pattern of relationships binds all things together. This is the deepest and most central knowledge we have of the universe. Religious people wonder if this data has any meaning or application for life.

Emerging theology suggests that God’s self manifestation in Christ is this pattern of relationality. In other words, Christ is the connecting design of the Universe. There is a beautiful foundation for this in Colossians: Christ is “before all things,” and “in Him all things hold together.” These are elegant and poetic words describing a mystery, but they also provide a way to interpret scientific data so that it can touch us in the quick of our being.

Christ is the integrating power and force in the stars, in the planets, in the beauty of the earth and in every manifestation of life. Indeed, Christ is the integrity of creation. The bond that is Christ is always bringing forth new possibilities. Or, in the overarching drama of evolution, Christ is the force that lures everything forward into the future.

Through the lens of evolution one sees that an irreversible sense of becoming pervades the mystery of creation. Everything presses forward to become more than it was. From a scientific perspective it is astonishing to consider the progressive development of matter towards life. From a religious or spiritual perspective one is left in awe before God’s work that allowed life to forge its way into being through non-living forms. It is even more astonishing that consciousness emerged in living things and more amazing still that in human beings, self-reflective consciousness, or awareness of oneself as a thinking being, came forth. The consciousness continues to unfold as we speak. Each moment brings new possibilities of depth and transformation.

Today a vast new era of consciousness is opening, characterized by a sense of global integration. Whereas previously, knowledge was eagerly pursued in separate categories and disciplines, now a growing desire exists to understand how everything fits together -- to see how science and religion dovetail to create a grand sense of God’s work of creation.

The moral implications of this new awareness are seen in the impetus to assume responsibility for maintaining the life and health of our planet. In the public arena, the stimulus package recently passed by Congress contains 15 times the amount of money ever previously allocated for green projects. Some have even said that the stimulus package may as well have been written with green ink!

Some theologians say that the challenge before us now is to find ways to bring Jesus forward into the new era -- to take what we know of Jesus and allow it to manifest new depths of meaning. I mentioned relationality and examined it in terms of Christ as the central unifying pattern binding all creation together. One can also look at Jesus’ human life in terms of relationality. You could say that Jesus lives the pattern of relationality from within. It is the one generic quality that radiates through all his interactions with other people. It is expressed through his presence to others; through compassion, acceptance, comprehension, understanding, justice, inclusivity and through liberating truth. Everything in his life is directed toward relating with the other. Nothing, not even cruelty and death, breaks this pattern. (See Christ in Evolution by Delia Ilio, Orbis Books)

By continually opening out of consciousness, humanity has come to the edge of integrated global awareness fed through powerful networks of knowledge. Yet, each generation of people must do its best to understand the meaning of life with the knowledge available in its own time. In other words, faith must make sense even while mystery is acknowledged. The code one lives by cannot fail to synchronize with other major pieces of knowledge and understanding. Otherwise, it will fail to support the complexity of modern life. Today Christians can look at their faith tradition and deeply value what has been nourishing from the past while finding a new level of vigor supported by contemporary insights.

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