Our Divine Nobility, Justice and Compassion

In her doctoral thesis on the theme of “Royal Personhood,” Helen Kenik points out that in Judaism, “the ideal of kingship was seldom realized”* and that kingship was often negative and pessimistic. But its ideal or aspiration was there; and with it, a hope that a king with true nobility would one day reign. 

One of the flawed and human kings of Israel: “The Judgment of Solomon,” Castelli, 18th century, Lille Museum of Fine Arts. Wikiwand.

Isaiah spoke to that hope:

A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him….
Not by appearance shall he judge,
not by hearsay shall he decide.
But he shall judge the poor with justice
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.  
(Is 11: 1-5.)

“Christ Healing the Sick.” Etching by Heinrich Hofmann, 1893. Wikimedia Commons.

And this is what the messianic tradition represents, “the ideal of kingship furnished the content for the messianic tradition.”  

Thus, Luke’s Gospel says that Jesus came

to bring glad tidings to the poor;
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
recovery of sight to the blind
and release to prisoners.  
(Lk 4: 18).

It is all peoples, not just Jesus, who are called to heal the sick and bring glad tidings to the poor.  All are called to be prophets or messiahs.  We are all “other Christs,” “other Buddhas,” other “images of God,” sons and daughters of God after all.  

Being royal persons means we are to be agents of compassion. 

Chandler Moore sings a meditation on the “I Am” verses in Isaiah at a live recording in Atlanta, 2020. TRIBL

Eckhart reminds us that “compassion means justice.”  Justice ensures order and balance in the whole of creation, while injustice brings about chaos and undoes all of creation.  The prophets and psalmists connect Yahweh as Creator, King and Justice-maker.  Isaiah says, “I am Yahweh, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your king.”  (Is. 43:15)

The divine nobility expresses and incarnates itself as compassion and justice-making.

How are we doing?

* Adapted from Helen Kenik, “Toward a Biblical Basis for Creation Theology,” in Matthew Fox, ed., Western Spirituality: Historical Roots, Ecumenical Routes, pp. 27-75;

and Fox, Original Blessing, pp. 93-102.

Banner Image: A living sprout springs forth from a dry stump. Photo by qinghill on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

How is humanity today, how are we today, doing in expressing our divine nobility by way of compassion and justice?  What is holding us back?

Recommended Reading

Western Spirituality: Historical Roots, Ecumenical Routes

In this book, Fox gathers scholars from various cultures and traditions such as Helen Kenik, Jon Sobrino, Nicolas Berdyaev, Rosemary Ruether, M. D. Chenu, Mary Jose Hobday, Ronald Miller, Monika Hellwig, James Kenney, Justin O’Brien and others to approach creation spirituality from many traditions and many angles. 
“An exciting and important book…a pleasant alternative to the oppressive burden of the fall/redemption tradition.” ~ New Review of Books and Religion 

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

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3 thoughts on “Our Divine Nobility, Justice and Compassion”

  1. Avatar

    Awareness/realization of our unique Divine~human natures PRESENT WITHIN US are still evolving with one another, with Sacred Mother Nature, and Within Our Sacred multidimensional~multiverse Co-Creating~Evolving COSMOS With God’s Spirit of LOVING~WISDOM~ONENESS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  2. Avatar

    I am rereading Jeremy Rifkin’s THE EMPATHIC CIVILIZATION [2009]. Rifkin tracks humanity’s evolution through eons to our current biosphere consciousness. It is a mainly secular analysis that can be read in dialectical engagement with the transcendent cosmology of mystics like Teilhard de Chardin and Meister Eckhardt. Rifkin concludes his lengthy analysis with a question that matches Matthew’s question for today, 14 years later.
    ” The Empathic Civilization is emerging. We are fast extending our empathic embrace to the whole of humanity and the vast project of [bio]-life that envelops the planet. But our rush to universal empathic connectivity is running up against a rapidly accelerating entropic juggernaut in the form of climate change and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. [His question} Can we reach biosphere consciousness and global empathy in time to avert planetary collapse?”
    Rifkin more recently published a hopeful vision in his 2022 book THE AGE OF RESILIENCE: Reimagining Existence on a Rewilding Earth.

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