In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being…He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.… And the Word became flesh and lived among us (Jn 1:1-14).

Jesus is celebrated as the Word made flesh. But we are being told that the story of this Word does not begin with the life of Jesus. The Word was with God in the beginning and had an active role in the creation of “all things.” According to this hymn, everything that has ever come to be in the long history of creation exists only in and through the Word.

[...] As theologians have attempted to articulate a Christian ecological theology, they have turned to the central idea of incarnation. At the heart of Christian faith is the affirmation that Jesus of Nazareth is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). What is meant by flesh in this affirmation is not only the fully human reality of Jesus, but the whole of humanity embraced by God in the incarnation. As the great patristic theologians like Irenaeus and Athanasius taught, in the Word made flesh God becomes human so that the whole of humanity might be healed, taken up into God and deified in God.

However, the meaning of the incarnation, of becoming flesh, is not restricted to humanity. The flesh that is embraced by God is not limited to the human. It includes the whole interconnected world of fleshly life and, in some way, includes the whole universe to which flesh is related and on which it depends.

[...]New Zealand theologian Neil Darragh comments on this line of thought: “To say that God became flesh is not only to say that God became human, but to say also that God became an Earth creature, that God became a sentient being, that God became a living being in common with all other living beings...

[...]Today, in a world where countless forms of life have been destroyed and many more are under threat, we need a deeper appropriation of the meaning of God-with-us in Christ. We need to think of God-with-us in the sense of God-with-all-living-things.

[...]In the Word made flesh, God is revealed at the heart of the human, and precisely as such, is revealed as at the heart of all life on Earth. The flesh of Jesus is part of the whole creaturely pattern of life on Earth. When the Word is made flesh, God embraces the long interconnected history of life in all its complexity and diversity.

Denis Edwards
Ecological Commitment and the Following of Jesus

Picture: Sister Eleanor C. Llanes, ICM

Conference SEDOS 2009 - Denis Edwards