Christmas, Grace & the Divine Life Inside Us & Our Actions

Yesterday, on Christmas, we cited Peter’s epistle and Clement of Alexandria and Saint Irenaeus, a second century Celtic bishop in Lyons, France, about God becoming human in order to instruct us in our divinity.

Incarnation among the most vulnerable: “Christ in the Rubble.” Modern-day icon by Kelly Latimore on commission for the progressive activist group Red Letter Christians for peacemaking in Gaza. Used with permission; to purchase, click HERE.

They were not alone in this assessment of the Incarnation, that is the Maker of the universe joining the human race.  “God became human in order that humans might become divine,” said saint, mystic and intellectual genius, Thomas Aquinas.

He repeats this theme: “The Son of God became human in order that humans might become gods and become the children of God.”

And still another time: The Incarnation accomplished the following: That God became human and that humans became God and shared in the divine nature (cf 2 Pet: 1:4). This sharing in the divine nature is called by theologians “sanctifying grace.”  This kind of grace means we carry the divine life within ourselves.

Theologians talk about another kind of grace, actual grace, which courses through our actions and decision-making and intentions. 

Thus God became human in order that humans might learn compassion, for in Judaism compassion is the secret name of God.  And in all religions around the world, compassion constitutes the truest essence of healthy religion.  The Dalai Lama says that “we can do away with all religion, but we can’t do away with compassion.  Compassion is my religion.”

Alan Watts discusses the difference between control and compassion in our relationships. Wake Up Humanity

How alike this is to Jesus’s teaching, “Be you compassionate as your Father in Heaven is compassionate.”  (Lk 6:36)  And Matthew 25, “Do it to the least and you do it to me.”  “Feed the hungry and you feed me; visit the prisoner and you visit me; care for the sick and you care for me,” etc.  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Compassion is an accomplishment of the mammal brain that checkmates the excess of the reptilian brain (“I win, you lose”). 

If Christmas happened and God became human in order that humans become divine and act the way God acts, the obvious question arises: How are we doing?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, pp. 116f.

See also: Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice

And Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

And Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, pp. 109, 114-116.

Banner Image: “Dorothy Day and the Holy Family of the Streets.” Painting by iconographer Kelly Latimore. Published with permission; to purchase, click HERE.

Queries for Contemplation

What does it mean to you to become sharers in the divine nature?  And to act like it?  How are we doing as a species?

Recommended Reading

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice

In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register

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

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

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5 thoughts on “Christmas, Grace & the Divine Life Inside Us & Our Actions”

  1. Avatar

    My understanding of “sharing in the Divine Nature” is growing in awareness/consciousness of the PRESENCE of our beloved Source~Co-Creators Spirit of DIVINE LOVE in our hearts/Eternal Souls, and this Includes our LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS with one another, Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth and all her living creatures and graceful abundance, and with All our Sacred Evolving multidimensional-multiverse COSMOS in the Sacred Process of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT… Most of our human species, as children of God, are still evolving from our separate ego consciousness to our greater DIVINE COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS of our Eternal Souls… Our human incarnations on earth provide us many opportunities and experiences of joy and suffering for Our Eternal Souls on our spiritual journeys to continue growing with-in Our Beloved’s COMPASSIONATE DIVINE LOVE ~ COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS ….

  2. Avatar

    The divine INSIDE us… my sense is that this is the Great Mystery that we are all invited to experience and encounter within the Soul’s journey of life. It appears to me, that this is uniquely personal… rooted in the intimacy of being and living in relationship with this Great Mystery… which is infinitely diverse.

    The key is to surrender in TRUST to this spiritual reality… in whatever way this unfolds, evolves and emerges in one’s life… as one converges with the living essence and presence of this Great Mystery not only INSIDE oneself, but which is also INSIDE others and the creation of the all and the everything.

    This invokes a deeper curiosity and desire to engage and explore this divine mystery inherent within all… through relationship with. There’s a kind of sacred open sharing… a willingness to vulnerably be seen… unto ourselves, others, and all of creation… as a mystery desiring to be known, through vast means, methods and practices of engagement with.

    This divine essence present INSIDE, also invokes a sense of adventure and excitement about the soul’s journey of life… as one discovers a kind of sacred reciprocity that unfolds… of seeking and finding… experiencing and encountering the unknown… becoming known. It’s organically fluid… creatively and imaginatively transforming our humanity in its movements.

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