The Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar sees Julian’s revelations of the crucifixion as a theo-drama to help us understand (or approach understanding) the action of the Trinity at the cross; this element of infinite divine freedom that created finite freedom and where they meet, interact. Considering the paradox of the nature of existence alone (spirit-body, individual-community, etc.) von Balthasar remarks that if one is not to be resigned to
. . . a narrow Aristotelian “middle”—in view of the destructiveness of extreme spiritualization and sensualization—[one] must be given . . . a blueprint [that] would have to execute fully both movements without hubris and without degradation: it would have to come down to flesh “from above”, as the pure breath of God, plumbing the dimensions of “world” and “flesh” to the very bottom. . . . And from below, on the basis of a perfected fleshly being, it must go beyond the realm of the “world” so as to bring both world and flesh with it, in its transcendence, up to God, “transfiguring” it, not “spiritualizing” it in some incorporeal manner. (TD II, 364)
It is spiritual and it is flesh; it is One and it is Community (Trinity). The work of the cross is not merely an event at a fixed point and time. It is an action—acting out—of the Triune God who is infinite freedom, infinite will, inter-acting—intersecting—at a specific point in time and space. Yet, this action is from outside of time while encompassing everything within time by that action.
How can we understand it? Christ told Julian that his wound would remain open for as long as it takes, and that is how she could know that all will be well. Jesus died, was buried and raised up again on that weekend two millennia back. Still, Christ’s wound remains open to encompass any who are to be saved—until all who will be saved, are.
I love the statement Paul makes in 1 Cor 13:12, that for now we see in a mirror, dimly, darkly, but then we will see face-to-face! We understand, yet, only in part. What James says is equally true: when I lack faith and do not participate in God’s creative action (doer of God’s word) I am like one who looks in a mirror and in turning away forgets who I am—forgets Whose image I bear. Still, God’s grace is infinite. For somehow, God reflects divine light (that darkness cannot overcome) off (out of) me, even in my forgetting.
Glass, mirror. Please meditate with me on God’s mercy and compassion to transcend and transfigure time and space, flesh and spirit—even if only dimly, for now.