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  • Rick Bonetti

A Paschal Mystery Story for the Third Millennium

Updated: Nov 27, 2022

March 20th is the first day of Spring (the Spring Solstice and Equinox) – the start of a new season in the annual cycle of blossoming and growth after one of decline and darkness.

The Jewish Passover seder is April 15, 2022. Easter is April 17, 2022, with its message of death, resurrection, and renewal.

Origins of practices of unleavened bread and paschal lamb had little to do with the notion of substitutionary atonement. *[see note below]

The Jesuit’s practical interpretation of Easter is that “new life can come from death; that we can find meaning in tough times; and that there really is light in the darkness.”

Richard Rohr interprets the paschal mystery story in a broader Hebrew biblical context as “the pattern of down and up, loss and renewal, enslavement and liberation, exile and return, transformation through darkness…”

But Matthew Fox’s interpretation of the pascal mystery story “may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our age.”

In his 1988 book, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ Fox offers “a paschal mystery story for the third millennium… and for a new era of religious belief” – the crucifixion of Mother Earth; the resurrection of the human psyche by way of an awakened mysticism; and the coming of the Cosmic Christ, ushering in a global renaissance that can heal Mother Earth and save her by changing human hearts and ways. Put in other words, its a pascal mystery story of the divine cycle of death, rebirth, and sending of the Spirit in our time: matricide, mysticism, a new living cosmology.

By using the term “cosmology” Fox means three things:

  1. A scientific story about the origins of our universe

  2. The mysticism that is a psychic response to our being in a universe

  3. Art, which translates science and mysticism into images that awakens body, soul, and society

“A cosmology needs all three elements to come alive; it is our joyful response (mysticism) to the awesome fact of our being in the universe (science) and our expression of that response by the art of our lives and citizenship (art).”

Matthew Fox is offering a “new wineskin with which to grasp and live out the paschal mystery for the third millennium” by proposing that “Mother Earth can be understood as Jesus Christ crucified.”

“Uniting mysticism and spiritual development with ethical and prophetic witness, the creation spirituality articulated by Matthew Fox presents an inspiring vision of an alternative Christology. The Cosmic Christ is the incarnation of God in the universe and especially in Mother Earth.”

Spring is a season of letting go – “We need to let go of the Enlightenment and its worldview that denies mysticism and lacks a cosmology. We need to let go of a religious worldview that bores the young, trivializes Jesus Christ, and renders our spiritual heritage almost impotent.” Mystical awakening is about the awe, wonder, and “radical amazement” (Rabbi Abraham Heschel’s phrase) and this leads to “a morality of reverence for all creation.”

So as we celebrate the Spring Solstice, can we let go; open ourselves to the mystery of all of creation; and embrace a new paradigm of this divine cycle of the coming Cosmic Christ?

“The cosmos is fundamentally and primarily living… Christ through his Incarnation, is internal to the world,… rooted in the world, even in the very heart of the tiniest atom… Nothing seems to me more vital, from the point of view of human energy, than the appearance and eventually, the systematic cultivation of such a ‘cosmic sense’.” ~ Teilhard de Chardin

*Note: Notker Fuglister argues that “both Passover and matzot were of pre-Israelite origin.” Sacrificial practices associated with the killing of animals for food were widespread in primitive cultures throughout the world. The killing of animals for food is not a trivial thing – its life is somehow related to divinity, hence elevated to worship. “The Passover was originally a rite of shepherds, performed in the night of the full moon at the spring equinox for the protection and well-being of themselves and their flocks… The matzot belonged to the culture of a farming population, who marked the break between old and new at the beginning of the harvest by eating unleavened bread which contained no flour from the crops of the previous year. Hence Passover and matzot were two nature feasts that were “historicized” by the Israelites.” Similarly, the notion of original sin was alien to Judaism, Jesus, and first-century Christianity, but was introduced by Augustine in the 4th century, embraced by Constantine as an effective doctrine to help control citizens in a waining Roman empire, and historicized by the Roman Catholic church."

Marcus Borg, in Convictions says “a major historical problem that negates the notion that Jesus’s death as a payment for sin is the only correct understanding is this: it is not central to the first thousand years of Christian belief.” Borg attributes the idea to the archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm in 1098. “It is not part of ancient Christianity and so not part of biblical and traditional Christianity.

Tags: Cosmic Christ, Mysticism, Cosmology, MotherEarth, Pashcal Mystery Story, Matthew Fox, Richard Rohr, Marcus Borg Spring, Renewal, Spring Solstice, Easter, Passover

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