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A conversation in eternity — A Christmas contemplation

Imagine a conversation happening just over two thousand years ago. This is of course using our human, all too human, concept of linear time.

For the participants this is nonsensical: ‘they’ (another nonsense because Three is One and One is Three,and if I digress any further I will have a nasty headache and will not be able to complete my story) are beyond time itself.

And since we have long called them by names from our limited, time-bound and human-centred vocabulary, I shall bow to convention (or orthodoxy, to put it in church jargon) and name them accordingly.

FATHER Of all my species in all the planets in all the multiverse, and you want to visit them!
SON No. I want to be one of them.
FATHER You know they are a dangerous, wild lot, full of pride and anger, greed and violence.
SON And full of love and passion, generosity and kindness. You had a hand in making them, after all, when you willed matter out of nothing. You’ve watched them and agonised over them as you’ve watched and agonised over all creation.
SPIRIT He’s right you know. And despite your decision to give free will to what you created you have always been there. With them in that little corner of the universe, you have always had a kind of bond. Not least because of the way their consciousness evolved into thinking beings. We have always been there with them, always hoping they would grow into something even better.
FATHER Look at the mess they’ve made!
SON Come on, we all know that in all that mess you have just loved them even more. An angry god would have destroyed them long ago. And you didn’t. You let them struggle on.
SPIRIT And I have been with them too.
FATHER But they are dangerous — to themselves, to the creatures and plants that live with them, to the earth itself.
SON What more reason then that I should visit them? I shall guide them to reach what we see they can be.
FATHER What about my rule of non-intervention? What about their free will? You come in all our glory, you dazzle them with our might, you’ll scare the crap out of them, make them believe, force them to grow as we would have them grow. You can’t force them to be free…
SON Actually I have an idea. I become one of them, fully one of them. No divine power. No dramatic world-changing actions. Just a man born of a woman, born into a culture at a particular time, with all human limitations. Not even a man born into wealth and power, but one born poor into a community on the fringes of a great empire to a powerless people living under an occupying power. No dramatic arrival. Perhaps even born away from the home I’ll grow up in. In a place like a stable. Seen only by the most ignored and outcast of people, like shepherds. I’ll grow up in obscurity, so much so that people may have to invent details about my early life later  — even perhaps arbitrarily assigning a date to my birth because there’s no official birth certificate. I will live among them and I will try to teach them to be more human, to embrace love over laws, to see us in those their world sees as nobodies.
SPIRIT It’s going to be tough. As you know, the powers that rule over them take no opposition. They’ll come after you. I have seen this time and again in their history.
FATHER We all have. Standing outside their concept of time we have seen all the horrors, what this scribe recording this calls history – and the future which he cannot see.
SON Indeed, we have seen. From our state of being outside of time, I have seen too what I will become in time. And what their scribes will say of me.
FATHER And what they will do to you.
SON Yes.
FATHER And yet you are determined to proceed.
SON I am. In their time, I already have. In our eternity I am eternally being sent, incarnating, dying, resurrected and waiting for them at the end of time. In their time I am waiting to be born.
SPIRIT And I too.
SON Some of their theologians will say I am born to save their sins. Indeed, that too. But above all I choose this — in their terms it’s chose, I suppose — because I am so totally drawn to them that I cannot but become one of them.
FATHER Sounds like my Son is in love.
SON Funny you should say that Dad. So are you.
SPIRIT So are we all.

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.