The word “innocent” from its Latin root means “not wounded.” That’s how we all start life. We’re all innocent. It doesn’t have anything to do with morally right or wrong. It has to do with not yet being wounded.
Reflection of the Week - 12th July 2022
By Richard Rohr
Posted in Faith
The Embodiment of God
During the apostle Paul’s lifetime, the church was not yet an institution or structural grouping of common practices and beliefs. The church was a living organism that communicated the gospel through relationships.
Paul’s brilliant metaphor for this living, organic, concrete embodiment is the Body of Christ: “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them” (Romans 12:4–6). At the heart of this body, providing the energy that enlivens the community is “the love of God that has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5).
This Spirit is itself the foundational energy of the universe, the Ground of all Being. Union is not just pious rambling or pretty poetry, but the concrete work of God in loving us. Paul writes, “Now you in your togetherness are Christ’s Body” (1 Corinthians 12:27). In our connectedness with this luminous web, this vibrational state of love, we are participating in the embodiment of God.
For Jesus, such teachings as forgiveness, healing, and justice are the clear evidence of such a shared life. When we do not see this happening, religion is “all in the head.” Peacemaking, forgiveness, and reconciliation are not some kind of ticket to heaven later. They are the price of peoplehood—the signature of heaven—now.
We are essentially social beings, and I am only one part of the reflection of the great mystery of God. We are each of us simply one fingerprint or footprint of God. We are essentially connected with one another. The foundation for community has to come out of Reality and What Is. The best way we can do that in community is to repattern our lifestyles on what is. And the pattern of the universe is that we are one. It’s a benevolent universe, it’s radically okay, and God is on our side. We can be at rest. We don’t have to live competitively. We don’t have to climb or succeed because there’s nothing “up there” that isn’t “right here.”
Contemplative theologian Beatrice Bruteau (1930–2014) affirms Reality as community, based in the nature of the Trinitarian God:
Being made in the “image of God” means in the image of Trinitarian “community” life. And this in turn comes about because of the nature of God, which is self-giving love. It is because of the nature of love and the nature of personhood and the nature of freedom that community has the central position it has as the very root of reality. Community is how being, even Absolute Being, and therefore all being fundamentally is. It is not something optionally added afterwards. It belongs to the essence. 
 Beatrice Bruteau, Radical Optimism: Practical Spirituality in an Uncertain World (Boulder, CO: Sentient Publications, 1993, 2002), 104–105.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Essential Teachings on Love, selected by Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2018), 103–104; and
Creating Christian Community (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 1994). Available as MP3 download.
Center for Action and Contemplation, Richard Rohr
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