Empedocles (detail), by Luca Signorelli. Fresco Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto, 1499-1502.   

Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

Paradox

Jesus as Paradox

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

In Christianity, the non-dual paradox and mystery was a living person, an icon we could gaze upon and fall in love with. Jesus became the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), “the Mediator,” “very God and very human” at the same time, who consistently said, “follow me.” He is the living paradox, calling us to imitate him, as we realize that “[he] and the Father are one” (John 10:30). In him, the great gaps are overcome; all cosmic opposites are reconciled in him, as the author of Colossians says so beautifully (1:15-20).

Jesus, as the icon of Christ consciousness (1 Corinthians 2:16), is the very template of total paradox: human yet divine, heavenly yet earthly, physical yet spiritual, a male body yet a female soul, killed yet alive, powerless yet powerful, victim yet victor, failure yet redeemer, marginalized yet central, singular yet everyone, incarnate yet cosmic, nailed yet liberated. He resolves the major philosophical problem of “the one and the many.” Jesus has no trouble with contraries. He is always holding contraries together.

I have often said that the job of religion is to make one out of two: the healing of fractured relationships, the forgiveness of everything for being imperfect, marriage itself, the central process of divinization of the human person. Throughout most of our history, we could not, or were not told how to hold the opposites together. In most cases, people either lacked the inner spiritual experience or the intellectual tools, or both. We were largely unable to find the pattern that connected all the mysteries, even though it had been fully given to us in Jesus. We worshipped Jesus instead of following him on his same path. We made Jesus into a mere religion instead of a journey toward union with God and everything else. This shift made us into a religion of “belonging and believing” instead of a religion of transformation.

Open yourself to recognizing the great paradoxes within Jesus. Then you can begin to hold those same opposites together within yourself.

Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, p. 23;
and A New Way of Seeing, a New Way of Being: Jesus and Paul
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