THE HOLISTIC MYSTERY OF THE INCARNATION 10-31-2014

Jesus always existed. At the same time Jesus was begotten (made human). This is the perplexing and elusive mystic core of Christian faith. There was contention in the early church about this point.

Some claimed to varying degrees that Jesus was Creator, period (God/eternal). Others claimed Jesus was a creature, period (human/temporal). The Alexandrian Mystics, who I wrote about in my book, understood Jesus is both. Philo of Alexandria pressed this point when he exclaimed Jesus is both “un-created and created.”

The incarnation seems like an absurdity, for the essential difference between God and a human being, between the Creator and the creature, seems an unbridgeable gap. Kierkegaard insists on the absolute difference between God and the human. So, for Kierkegaard, Jesus is the absolute paradox. The impossibility of the incarnation is our Great Mystery, which we don’t attempt to solve, but to behold. It convinces us that all things are possible for God (Matthew 19:26). God can reconcile eternal and temporal, absolute and relative, Divine and human, not to mention all the contradictions of our lives.

Jesus is holistic through and through. The mind of Christ is “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). This Mind that we experience in silent prayer has the power to transform us from fragmentation to participation in Wholeness. It has the capacity to move us beyond our small and fragile selves to our true selves. Our true selves participate in what the authors of the Philokalia call our “original nature” or “original purity.”

Maximus The Confessor (d. 662) said,
“We are astonished to see both the finite and infinite—things which exclude one another and cannot be mixed—are found to be united in him (Jesus) and are manifested mutually the one in the other. For the unlimited is limited in an ineffable manner, while the limited is stretched to the measure of unlimited.”