Saturday, January 6, 2018

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI

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A NEW PERSPECTIVE

I mentioned in a previous post that I’m reading a book entitled The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, by Richard Rohr. I’m taking my time, trying to digest the ideas and their implications. Rohr presents a whole different way of looking at the mystery of the Trinity, a different perspective on the Father, the Sound and the Holy Spirit at work in the world and in me. Every couple of pages I highlight a sentence and say to myself, “Ah! That makes so much sense!” I highly recommend the book. There’s a website you might like to visit.


EPIPHANY GIFT

This morning I began reflecting on the readings for tomorrow’s solemnity of the Epiphany using some of the ideas in Rohr’s book. One of the points he makes is that when we start from the point of Trinitarian theology, we find a great foundation for interfaith dialogue and friendship. Intelligent dialogue with other religions is much easier when we are not using Jesus as our only “trump card.”

Up to now, we’ve generally used Jesus in a competitive way instead of a cosmic way, and thus others hear our belief at a tribal “Come join us -- or else” level. A far cry from the Universal Christ of Colossians “who reconciles all things to himself in heaven and on earth.” In short, we made Jesus Christ into an exclusive savior instead of the totally inclusive savior he was meant to be. ….

Once Christians learn to honor the Cosmic Christ as a larger ontological identity than the historical Jesus, then Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and spiritual-but-not-religious people have no reason to be afraid of us. They can easily recognize that our take on such an Incarnation includes and honors all of creation, and themselves, too.

This passage from page 210 of the book assumes the premises set out in the first 200 pages, of course, but maybe you can see that it was a perfect prelude to reading the story of the visit of “magi from the east” who came to worship the infant king of the Jews. From one point of view you’d have to say that they are intruders, pagans, who are out of place in the middle of this story of how Christ came to earth to save us Christians. Fortunately they return home right away, so we don’t have to think about how they fit into the plot. But from the perspective of Trinitarian theology, which includes the notion of a “cosmic Christ,” it makes perfect sense that people from all around the world would be attracted to the incarnate One “who reconciles all things to himself in heaven and on earth.”    

I enjoyed reflecting on the Epiphany story from this different perspective. The wise men from the east were welcome guests who had as much right as any human being to seek, find, and honor their newborn Savior.   


The magi seemed to bring with them this morning not just the three famous gifts, but also a challenge for all us Christians to see Christ not as the exclusive savior sent for us Christians, but as God’s gift to the entire universe and all those who dwell in it.

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