Jesus Thoughts (15) : Venn sketches

Fleeting note in the interstices of work, to follow up on (14).  Word to the wise : those of you who bump into this thread for the first time might want to start at the beginning, posted on Nov. 1 (the prologue).  The early parcels lay out the foundations for these later, perhaps more baroque (confusing?) flights of stone steps.

So, if we accept the hypothetical proposal of the previous posting - if we consider the possibility that we ourselves embody the resurrection of Jesus (being, through the Holy Ghost, his "body" on earth) - what are some of the consequences?

I read somewhere (& now I'm surely garbling it all - oh yes, it was in a monograph on the theology of the Byzantine monk, Maximus the Confessor) that when we think about the nature of personhood, of the person in the context of Jesus, we are not talking about the biological, genetic inheritance which we all share as human beings.  What distinguishes the person from humanity in general involves more than just our unique pattern of inherited DNA.  What distinguishes a particular person is their way of being in the world : their pattern of responding, choosing, acting, changing - alone and with others - through all the jungle of a life-experience.

One of the warnings Jesus in the Gospels directs to his disciples is this : "If you would emulate me, you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me."  So one of the immediate consequences of being the resurrection is that we are called upon to follow in the way of Jesus the person : casting off some of our own ways on behalf of this new spirit we embody.

In many ways it's like living at the matrix of a Venn diagram (the shared area of two intersecting circles).  We are ourselves, in our own place & time - and we are also bearing, or showing-forth, the "name" (the personhood) of Jesus, who inhabited his own place & time (as well as transcending it).  We are two-in-one : a parallel to the original duality of the God-Man (the basic Venn diagram).

This Venn diagram, then, is rooted in actual history.  As noted in the previous post (14), Christianity is in part a commemorative society : we remember the presence of Jesus on earth.  So what we do & are is grounded in the actuality of world-time.  Both history at large, and our own individual history, are united in a recognition of the personal enactment accomplished in, represented by, the life of Jesus.

A Venn diagram is a representation of fusion & synthesis, of two-in-one, of two-&-one.  The two remain distinct, but they are joined.  So Jesus says, "take up your cross."  We each face a crossroad, a matrix of time, chance & necessity - a focal point of existential choice & decision.  The cross is an image of suffering and death.  Yet it is also the matrix of supernatural reality : the dramatic focal point in which & through which God says, "Behold, I make all things new."

So we each have our own cross.  And if indeed we are the resurrection, here & now, then we are, in a sense, "children of the Most High" just as Jesus was : we stand at the center of the cosmos given for us, to us.  We must "be the Messiah" of our own lives, our own place & time.  We must build up in love, & healing, & encouragement, & wisdom. We must repent - change - "deny ourselves" - for the sake of God & our neighbor.  We must break the spiritual chains of oppression & hate, through a turn to the everlasting Love.  And each step on this "way" promises a qualitative change in the texture of our own experience : we actually become the "children of God", lifted by love toward the source of the universe.

When we open our eyes, we recognize that every human being is this same imago Dei - image of Christ - in their own lives.  Some may have distorted or tarnished this image, some might remain in a sense "in embryo" - but moment by moment we don't know what will burst forth from the consciousness of an "image of God".  This is the irreducible egalitarian reality at the root of the "Great Commandment" : "love God with all your heart, mind & strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."

The Great Commandment, at the matrix of Judeo-Christian faith, itself forms the geometry of a cross (horizontal, toward the neighbor, & vertical, toward God).  & I've been thinking a lot lately about the Native American gesture, performed in ritual services - lifting a branch of cottonwood toward the six directions (up, down, east, west, north, south).  Ordering the cosmos toward the Great Spirit, in the outline of a diamond, an octahedron.  This six-pointed, 8-sided shape can be said to represent a cross that wheels in every direction, like an internal gyroscope - or a sign carried over from the original cross (in Jerusalem) into the "New World" of every person's spiritual life.

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