Ultimate Transformation

April 4, 2013

in Some Things to Think About

cosmic ChristPeople use the word ‘transformation’ very loosely today. Corporate change programs are called transformational, even if they leave the company largely the same. People say that they have experiences that ‘transform’ them — and yet they too largely remain the same. But the OED defines transform as “change the form, shape, or appearance of; alter the character or nature of.” The death and resurrection of Jesus is truly transformational because it alters everything about mankind’s relationship with God!

A transformational vision

Listen to Pope Benedict describe Easter, based on his scholarly and faith-filled analysis of both the Old and New Testaments:

  • “[Easter] was an event that surpassed all that could be imagined.”
  • “We could regard the Resurrection as something akin to a radical ‘evolutionary leap’, in which a new dimension of life emerges, a new dimension of human existence.”
  • “It was an ontological leap, one that touches being as such, opening up a dimension that affects us all, creating for all of us a new space of life, a new space of being in union with God.”
  • [St Paul speaks of the] “cosmic body of Christ, indicating thereby that Christ’s transformed body is also the place where men enter into communion with God and one another and are thus able to live definitively in the fullness of indestructible life.” [1]

I have read many science fiction stories that reach for the “meaning of it all.” The source is generally an ancient race that leaves traces of itself, which future galactic explorers find and are puzzled by. I have never read a single story that is as audacious in its vision as these descriptions of Easter. Furthermore, Benedict asserts that these words are precisely the message of the New Testament! They are truth not imaginative fiction. Therefore, they must evoke some response in us, since we now live with the possibility of that we already (but not yet fully) inhabit a ‘new dimension’ of human life.

Cosmic Man

I suppose it’s easier to imagine that Jesus is a ‘cosmic’ man than it is to imagine that we are also, like him, ‘cosmic men and women’. Christians say the words “body of Christ” quite easily, and imagine that someday we will learn what that really means. There is truth in that future-oriented view but also avoidance. By implying that the real body of Christ only takes affect after our death, we can comfortably say to ourselves, “I have to live a good human life right now” leaving ourselves untransformed in this life. I can understand that. If people really believed they were already transformed and literally part of Christ’s cosmic body, that would make it much more difficult to lead an ‘ordinary life.’

So, what might it mean if we took being a ‘cosmic man or woman’ seriously? Here, I use my own imagination rather than trying to see what scripture tells us. I’ll leave that to experts. My basic premise in Grace Filled World is that we really experience the living presence of God — therefore, we can describe, or at least try to imagine what this means to us.

  • Jesus is active in my life. Looking back, I can see where I had ideas and took paths that weren’t part of any ‘plan’ on my part. To recount these would take a book, which I might someday write. I have already written several books that indirectly recount my experiences; perhaps someday I’ll be more autobiographical.
  • Prayer is being with Jesus, here and now, and also, beyond time, at the right hand of God. Only a few years ago, I couldn’t have written about prayer because I said ‘prayers,’ and didn’t actually imagine that I was entering the presence of God. Even now, I use tricks I picked up from meditation and other sources to help me pray. But Jesus said we must be like little children, innocently entering the presence of God without trying to ‘do it right.’ That’s pretty hard for a person like me who loves complex ideas and tries to find the meaning in everything. Now, when I pray, I am trying to leave all that ‘thinking’ and ‘doing prayer right’ behind and become a child again.
  • When I look at the people in Sydney, I experience a tremendous yearning for them to know what happened with the Resurrection. They don’t seem to care; this day’s experiences and concerns are enough for them. I think that’s how Jesus feels about them, and I’m experiencing what he’s experiencing. And, if he respects their freedom — because he could easily do some spectacular thing on TV or Facebook but doesn’t — then I must too. It’s about learning the difference between power (forcing people) and love (alluring people). My whole life has been immersed in a world of force. Now, in my mid-70s, I begin to see that I need to learn something I have avoided my entire life: being vulnerable enough to love.

I hope you will read this post and let me know how you experience Jesus in your life, as a ‘cosmic man or woman.’

[1] All quotes are from Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth Part Two; from the entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection.

 

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