Evolution and the Sin in Eden
A New Christian Synthesis

Chapter 16: Christ, Pantokrator

Christ is the Alpha and Omega whose greatness we celebrate at the Easter Vigil before lighting the candles. The priest intones these memorable words while tracing the symbols of the resurrection into the new Easter Candle:

Christ yesterday and today
the beginning and the end
Alpha and Omega
all time belongs to him
and all the ages
to him be glory and power
through every age for ever. Amen.

If all time and all the ages belong to Christ, then it would appear to be appropriate that God ought to consult with Christ -- with His human mind and heart also -- while creating and arranging the history of all times and ages. The sentence proclaimed by Pope John Paul II comes to mind: "In Jesus Christ the Father created the world" (To Special Synod Assembly of Asia, 14 May 1998). Christ was not yet Incarnate according to the manner by which we measure time as "before and after;" but in eternity the sequences of our "before and after" are absorbed into ageless duration. Christ could already be present to God and in operation in eternity, before He meshed Himself into the churning cogs of time on earth.

The cosmos must be Christ's at all times; it is His inheritance; He is its General Manager -- its CEO. Paul saw that God already chose us in Christ from eternity: "Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:3). God already prepared our good works for us in Christ from eternity: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). God had Christ at His right hand when, from eternity, He pulled the lever to detonate the cosmos into being. The Book of Proverbs savors the event with lovely poetry:

When he established the heavens I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was there beside him, like a master workman;
and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world,
and delighting in the sons of men (Prov 8:27-31).

If Christ, foreseen on the platform of eternity before time began, is pictured by God to be delighted with the cosmos and with the sons of men, then each of us already existed in Him in anticipation of our birth; and in anticipation of His birth in Bethlehem. It is then not unrealistic to contemplate that God created all things with Christ always in mind; with Christ always at His side as prime Consultant. The cosmos is to be truly Christ-dominated, His habitat of choice.

He would want to experience the delights of family life in a warm domestic circle in Nazareth, where His foster father Joseph would cherish His mother Mary with a pure love fortified by perfect chastity; where Joseph would model for Him the image of human manhood, point out to him the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, forecast the weather by evening red and morning gray, guide His hand firmly upon the tools of carpentry, do business sagaciously with all manner of customers coming to the shop, take interest in community life and speak up when necessary, stand up to read in the Synagogue when called upon.

Nazareth should be a home with a resourceful mother who knew well how to manage the house, its kitchen, laundry and playroom; who taught Him to speak correctly and in a pleasant manner; who modelled for Him graciousness of etiquette and correct manners with people; who traced with Him the constellations of the stars in the vault of the sky at night; a strong woman who was an implacable enemy of all evil, even the shadow of it; who imaged for Him true love for all people; whose heart was one with His in love for the Father, in love for all men even unto the end. She grew together with Him into the compassionate Woman who would stand by during His agony on the cross; who would bow her head when He breathed His last and died. All this and more.

Christ, we say, ought rightfully be recognized as the architect and planner of our cosmos, which He Himself filled with beauty and adventure, with love and splendor, with passion and pathos, with victories and human triumphs; there are also partial and temporary victories obtained by the Devil and by evil persons which inevitably turn out to be their own undoing. May the marvelous cosmos, so carefully designed by Christ, serve mankind well for ages yet to come! May the end of this beautiful world be millennia beyond our day!

The Immense Knowledge of Christ

A woman's bleeding had baffled her doctors. For twelve years her hemorrhages had not been cured, although she had spent all her livelihood on medical experts. Then she touched the tassel of the cloak of Jesus, and "immediately her bleeding stopped" (Lk 8:44). Whatever medical problem was involved, Jesus knew all about it -- and cured by the power of His will the abnormality which His mind had identified.

The storm at sea frightened even the seasoned fishermen as their boat began to ship water. Fearful of sinking into the waves they awakened Jesus. "And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there was a calm" (Lk 8:24). In His mind the Godman had measured the energy of the storm and the inertia of the lapping waves. With His will He ironed the waves smooth and blocked the wind from its blowing. He took care to prevent a destructive vacuum from developing downwind after He had suddenly stopped the flow of air from upwind. The cosmos was safe in the hands of its Master Designer.

Lazarus was dead four days now. Martha blurted out that there would be a stench. Jesus knew well that raising the corpse from the dead would be no small feat. Thirteen billion nerves of the brain would need to be reactivated, over seventy trillion cells should be re-conditioned. A stiffened heart would have to resume rhythmic beating. No problem! "Lazarus, come out!" spoke Jesus. "The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them `Unbind him, and let him go'" (Jn 11:43-44). Lazarus stood there re-conditioned, good as new.

The architect of the cosmos already knew everything there was to be known about the compaction of this created material -- having Himself designed and created it by His divine power, and having witnessed the designing of it with His created human intelligence. He knew well the bricks and mortar of its constitutive elements -- the particles, atoms, molecules -- for even now His divine power was preserving it in being. Every cell of the human body He knew, each a workshop enclosed by a membrane of double walls fitted with ionic gateways and pumps, structured with microtubules, governed by RNA and DNA directing its reactions with lightning speed, each cell coordinated with the entire throbbing body by way of the diversified network of the 100,000 genes of the human genome. The Godman was not a stranger in the cosmos. He knew and governed its micro-particles and balanced in His hands the 100 billion galaxies moving outward from the center of the cosmos to expand the bubble of space.

Christ, Light of the Cosmos

An ancient Rabbi told this story to explain how God had made the decision to create our world despite the sinfulness which He foresaw:

Yahweh said, "How can I create the world, when these godless people will rise up and revolt against me?" But when God saw Abraham who was to come, he said, "Look, I have found a rock on which I can construct and establish the world." For this reason he called Abraham a rock: "Look at the rock from which you were hewn" (Is 51:1-2).

By his faith, Abraham, the father of all believers, is the rock which supports creation, pushing back Chaos, the original flood which imminently threatens to ruin everything. So spoke the Rabbi. (Told by Cardinal Ratzinger, Oss. Rom. 8 July, 1991).

The Rabbi pictured Abraham as the rock against which the filthy tide of rebellion against God would be contained. We know that Abraham was but a foreshadowing of Christ. Against Christ the tide of the world's rebellion would not prevail. This Savior made it His mission to absorb the worst evils that the world and the flesh and the Devil could throw up against Him. He absorbed them, did not take revenge on His enemies, but neutralized all the poisons of evil in His body and spirit by laying down His life as the price of peace of mankind with God. "For our sake he opened his arms on the cross; he put an end to death and revealed the resurrection" (Eucharistic Prayer II).

The Son, when planning the universe with the Father and the Spirit, foresaw the ocean of rebellion which free people would wash against their Creator. But He persevered in His plan, gave the nod to the plan of creation, and resolved to take the punishment for the evil we do into His future body, no matter how painful that would be.

When His hour drew near, Peter attempted to defend Him against the invasion of evil, but Christ would have none of that: "Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?" (John 18:11). He would allow His beard to be plucked, his face to be slapped, His claims to be called blasphemy. He allowed the nails to fasten Him until they achieved His death, the cross to crucify Him until all the bitterness of sin was drained.

The sin of Adam and His descendants, and the Devil to whom the sin yielded power, would make Christ's life on earth more difficult in the end, as He absorbed the waves and shocks of evil, and gave no rebound. In the end sin died with Him, and He thus put an end to death and readied Himself and His followers for the resurrection. We gaze reflectively upon the scene of the crucifixion, weeping with Jeremiah who lamented what the powers of evil were doing to Jerusalem, figure of Christ:

The maidens of Jerusalem
bow their heads to the ground.
Worn out from weeping are my eyes,
within me all is in ferment;
My gall is poured out on the ground
because of the downfall
of the daughter of my people...
To what can I liken or compare you,
O daughter of Jerusalem?...
For great as the sea is your downfall;
who can heal you? (Lam 2 passim).

The resurrection heals totally the destruction done to Christ by the forces of evil. A bolt of lightning announced the Easter Event as an earthquake shook away the stone from the tomb. Evil and the Devil had vainly attempted to liquidate goodness. The risen Christ obliterates negatives from His Church which rises with Him in victory. Only those who choose to make themselves "sons of perdition" (cf. Jn 17:12) and close themselves off terminally from the saving powers of the Son of Man lose their battle against evil.

Christ, High Priest of the Cosmos

In the High Priestly Prayer, Jesus asked the Father to first of all bless His circle of close friends, those at table with Him who were now priests: "Sanctify them in truth... For their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth" (John 17:17;19). By consecrating them with Himself, He separated them from secular purposes for an exclusively sacred function. He took for Himself personally the members of the ministerial priesthood. It is this priesthood which is the heart of the mission of Christ's coming into this world.

"Doctor Subtilis" Duns Scotus deems that the Son of God became Incarnate to become the priest of the cosmos, to give glory to God from the platform which God would fashion outside of His eternal dwelling. The Son would become man to reflect glory back to the Godhead from the outside, from out of a created world. As Scotus wrote: God wished to be loved from the outside, by One who can love God with maximal love:

God first loves Himself; secondly, He loves Himself for others, and this is an ordered love; thirdly, He wishes to be loved by the One who can love Him in the highest way -- speaking of the love of someone who is extrinsic to Him; and fourthly, He foresees the union of that nature which must love Him with the greatest love even if no one had fallen [into sin] (Opus Par.d.7, q.4; see translation, Carol, p. 35).

If I may interpret: God loves Himself and wishes others to share in this bliss. How can He bring this about with maximum amplitude? By having the Son become man, who as God-man can love God as none other can possibly do. And so God decreed the Incarnation, without immediate reference to any original sin at all. Such is the reasoning of Scotus.

Whether the insight of Scotus is correct, or whether Thomas interprets God's mind more correctly by saying that Christ became man in response to the sin of Adam, at any rate, Christ is NOW the Primate of our cosmos. He is commissioned by God to take charge of the universe for the duration, until time comes to an end: "Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father" (1 Cor 15:24). Before that end comes He recapitulates the human family first of all, and the entire material cosmos as well, into His power and love so long as the clock of time continues to tick its way toward the arrival of the eschaton.

Theologian Matthias Scheeben points out that Christ, by means of His latreutic sacrifice, obtained from God not only the remission of the sins for the human race; He also purchased for us in a positive manner the gift of supernatural grace in the first place:

Christ has not only regained for us the grace of the children of God, which we had forfeited by sin, in the sense that He has wiped out the sin and thereby enabled the original grace of God to return to its rightful place; for in that case grace would ever remain pure grace, and would not have been positively purchased by Him. No; just as by the satisfactory efficacy of His sacrifice, He has absolved us of the infinite debt which we had incurred with God, so by the meritorious power of His sacrifice He has made God our debtor; that is, He paid Him so high a price that God no longer bestows upon us that great benefit, the grace of divine sonship, out of sheer, gratuitous kindness and free love, but now confers it upon us as our due. It is here above all that we gain some insight into the meaning, so sublime and mysterious, which the sacrifice of Christ has for us (The Mysteries of Christianity, 452-453).

Christ continues on earth, through the Sacrifice of the Mass, the immolation and glorification of His own body, thereby enabling us to likewise consecrate ourselves to God with Him. Scheeben rightly points out that the meaning of death is thus transformed from association with punishment to become instead an act of adoration:

By their union with Him the bodies of His members attain to a higher, mystical consecration. Furthermore, they receive thereby a freedom from death in virtue of which they undergo death not so much as a natural necessity or punishment, but rather, after the example of their head, take death upon themselves for the honor of God. By their immolation, mortifications, and toils of this life and crowned in death, by the immolation which takes place in Christ's members in the spirit and power of Christ, the members are made ready as a fragrant holocaust to enter with Christ into the presence of God in their glorified bodies, and to be received by God. After the general resurrection the whole Christ, head and body, will be a perfect holocaust offered to God for all eternity, since Christ Himself, not only in His personal being, body and soul, but also in His entire mystical body, will be truly universal, total holocaust offered to God through the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit (439).

We laudably believe that by the power of His passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, Christ wins for Himself not only stewardship over the material cosmos, not only Headship of the human race, but universal dominion and power and glory over all the angelic creatures in heaven as well. For the angels, too, Christ offered His sacrifice, "not indeed that it reconciles them to God after sin, but in the sense that the Lamb which was slaughtered in the beginning stands eternally in God's sight to merit and secure supernatural grace for them also," so reasons Scheeben (444). He is truly a Spiritus vivificans, a life-giving spirit who fills angels as well as humans with divine spirit and life.

Seen in this light, suffering and death are not a minus in our lives; when we accept them fortified with the power of Christ, they open up for us new dimensions of a glorified purpose of life on earth. Without death the meaning of our lives would be comparatively shallow and limited. Had Adam been transformed into a spirit without having undergone physical death, his sojourn on earth would not have had the richness of meaning which ours has, now that we can grasp death as a supreme act of adoration to God, fortified by the power of Christ. By suffering and dying in obedience to God we activate a supreme love within ourselves which would not be realized in the absence of pain and death. "Suffering thus undertaken is obviously an act of the purest self-sacrifice and the most sublime virtue, and hence is more honorable and lovable than impassibility" (Scheeben, 425).

By His death, resurrection and ascension He is the fire of sacrifice by which the fragrance of the universe rises up to God in adoration and thanksgiving. Through this dedication of the spiritual and material universe in Himself Christ makes the cosmos become one piece, dedicated now to God and to humming His praises. Without Christ this world would have been a self-enclosed insular secularism, an orchestra of sounding brass and tinkling symbol with no conductor to coordinate the players, no audience to appreciate its significance and beauty.

The cosmos has been created, in this concept, not for its own sake, but to give glory to God. And Christ is the priest who takes this cosmos into Himself as His own, and makes the entire universe sing its obedience to God to give Him glory.

The ministerial priest, who is called to Christ's side to be His alternate, participates in Christ's priestly function as one specially called for this purpose. Like Christ, he is consecrated -- set aside from secular purposes -- to live the cosmic consecration to God. The priest is Christ on earth, consecrating it until He comes again in glory. Until the end of time, the priest, in persona Christi will profess belief in God from the midst of the universe, as Psalm 22 testifies:

I will tell of thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation
I will praise thee...
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.

Not only the ministerial priest, but all believers in God are called to be a "kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:6) who make this world to be an offering pleasing to God. Those whom Christ marks with the seal of the baptismal priesthood, those whom He inspires to know God, to love Him, to serve Him -- all are elevated by Christ to be priests of the cosmos, who offer glory to God from the midst of the secular universe.

To gather up the cosmos and dedicate it to God, that, in the mind of Scotus, was Christ's primary mission. After Adam sinned, he did not get stuck in that sin but began the struggle to do good with the help of Christ. When Adam's descendants sank into the morass of "the sin of the world," Christ blazed a trail of goodness for all to follow, in ancient times and today. At the end of time, Christ will come again, highly visible, to sort the good from the bad, the sheep from the goats.

Christ, Definitive Judge

Michelangelo painted the face of Christ at the Last Judgment not as One instilling fear into the damned, but as One concerned that justice be done to one and all. The face of Christ dominating the wall of the Sistine Chapel makes justice to prevail universally. Mary, at His right, appears to reflect pity and sorrow for those who will not make it to heaven. Ascanio Condivi, an early biographer of Michelangelo, writes about the meaning the artist expressed in this painting:

Above the angels of the trumpets is the Son of God in majesty, in the form of a man, with arm and strong right hand uplifted. He wrathfully curses the wicked, and drives them from before His face into eternal fire. With His left hand stretched out to those on the right, He seems to draw the good gently to Himself...(Quoted in Inside the Vatican, May 1994, p. 28).

We know the reality which will follow this opening scene of the Last Judgment. For Christ has foretold what is to come:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world..." Then he will say to those at his left hand, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels..." (Mt 25:31-34;41).

Alpha and Omega

The cosmos began with Christ's consent. "I am the light of the world" (Jn 8:12) He revealed to the unbelieving Pharisees, who become so confused that they thought they had a duty to stone Him to death. They should have bowed their heads to ponder His meaning. He spoke what He knew to be true. For our cosmos became a visible reality when on the first day of creation God said: "Let there be light" and there was light (Gen 1:3). Christ is that light of the cosmos.

Without light, the cosmos would be a jumble of meaningless chaotic emptiness. It would have no purpose. God would not create a meaningless cosmos. But when God decreed the Incarnation, when Christ stepped forward to enter the cosmos, then it was that it became meaningful. When the Son of God agreed to the Incarnation, He gave the cosmos its raison d'etre. He became its light. When God said "Let their be light" He said it because the Incarnate Word stood there in readiness to enter our cosmos.

It was Christ who detonated the Big Bang, who then supported its driving force from the exploding center out to the edge of the expanding ripple of matter and energy. He delineates the edge of space where light ceases to be. "Ego eimi to phos tou kosmou -- I am the light of the cosmos," He could say, aware that where there is light, there is He who gives meaning to the universe by subsuming it into His knowledge and appreciation. He joyfully offers it to God as its High Priest. The Father and the Spirit consent with Him to make the cosmos be. They do so only because the Son lives in it as its reason for being.

Christ is also the source of light of our faith. He was the pillar of light Who guided the Israelites through the desert into the Promised Land. He is the Milky Way by which the Hunter-Gatherers aspire to walk into heaven after death. He is the light in the heart of all believers. He shines their pathway for safe travel into heaven. It is the living pathway within us of the Ten Commandments and of the Gospel message. He makes the pathway come to life within us, illumining our minds and warming our hearts. The living pathway is also that fountain of life which Christ turns on in us. It is a spring of living water welling up to eternal life. Christ is the Alpha who made us and the Omega who conducts us to the mansion prepared for us in heaven.


The doctrine about original sin teaches us the basic lesson of the meaning of life: God invited Adam to shape his life into a true image of the Divine Being -- his thoughts, words, deeds, and omissions -- to bring to ample fulfillment the original gift of holiness and justice which he had received from God. Adam's life must be a created image and likeness of his Creator.

But Adam experimented with sin, and tasted its disaster. Christ raised him again to be wiser this time, and to finally succeed.

God likewise invites the descendants of Adam to receive Baptism, to respond to His call to live in holiness and justice. Christ lamented over Jerusalem with tears because of the poor response of its people: "As he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, `Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes'" (Lk 19:41-42).

Whatever choice humans make during their lives, whether they do evil and so finally deserve to be ferried by Charon across the Acheron into the place of damnation; or whether they do good finally and so merit to enter into the New Jerusalem to be welcomed by Christ; this Christ is forever the Primate, the Light which makes our cosmos sparkle:

You are the fairest of the sons of men; grace is poured out upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you forever.
Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one,
In your splendor and your majesty!
In your majesty ride forth victoriously for the cause of
truth and to defend the right (Ps 45:2-4).

Saint Hippolytus celebrates Christ the Pantocrator with a magnificent encomium now featured in the new Catechism:

Life extends over all beings and fills them with unlimited light; the Orient of orients pervades the universe, and he who was "before the daystar" and before the heavenly bodies, immortal and vast, the Christ, shines over all beings more brightly than the sun. Therefore a day of long, eternal light is ushered in for us who believe in him, a day which is never blotted out: the mystical Passover (see CCC 1165).

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