Here is my third and final reflection regarding Blessed John Duns Scotus and his view of Christ.
To quote Meister Eckhart, a medieval Dominican theologian who died in 1327, there has been only “one word” spoken by the Father, namely, the Son of God, “and in that single word, God uttered all things.” This teaching helps us realize that all Scripture, though composed of many words, characters, and actions, is leading up to and giving expression to the one Word of God, whom we Christians profess as Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
All Things Culminate in Christ
Similarly, in the ongoing process of creation, there are many elements: minerals, plants, animals, and human persons. In the Christian view, as St. Paul expresses so well, all these elements and individuals are coming to a culmination in Jesus Christ. God’s plan, indeed, is “to bring everything together under Christ as head” (see Ephesians 1:10, Jerusalem Bible).
It is as though each one of us plays a part in that one sacred Word, that one mysterious drama of love, present in the mind of God from all eternity. It’s a beautiful, developing drama, a beauty whose end we cannot see. Starting with the first day of creation, the Word of God—the coeternal mirror of the Father—has been slowly emerging down the ages. The Word has become visible in the Incarnation and will reach its full revelation when Jesus returns in glory on the last day.
Blessed John Paul II’s View of Christ
John Paul II’s thinking seems to resonate well with the “primacy of Christ” doctrine and other elements in St. Paul’s vision of creation. Blessed John Paul II certainly sees Christ as the primary key to understanding the universe.
In his encyclical Redeemer of the Human Race, the pope proclaims. “Jesus is the center of the universe and of history” (1). Later he adds, “Christ the Redeemer ‘fully reveals humans beings to themselves’…. In Christ and through Christ, human persons have acquired full awareness of their dignity, of the heights to which they are raised, of the surpassing worth of their humanity, and the meaning of existence” (10, 11).
St. Francis’ Words Foreshadow Scotus’ View
Francis of Assisi, whose vision always centered on Christ, also provided a foundation for Duns Scotus’ perspective and that of the Franciscan school of thought. Francis wrote in his Admonitions: “Be conscious, O human being, of the wondrous state in which the Lord has placed you, for he created you and formed you to the image of his beloved Son.”
Christ’s Final Bow at the End of History
Many years ago I attended a stage play, and during the final curtain call, an intuition flashed into my mind. It struck me that what was happening on that stage was a shadowy image of what will happen at the end of the much larger drama of history itself.
We know well the ritual at the end of a stage performance. When the curtain reopens, we once again see the familiar set and furnishings, the “world” of the drama just presented. Then all the characters, from the lesser to the greater, begin coming on to the stage.
All have been part of this one dramatic story, this “one word” or “conception” expressing the mind and heart of the author. The performers continue to fill up the stage until, at the very end, as the lights grow brighter and the applause grows louder, the star of the show—glowing in the light—comes forward to take the final bow.
We can look at the drama of history in the same way. All of us human beings—with our brother and sister creatures of all the centuries—have been offered a role to play in the drama, Word Becoming Flesh. When the drama ends, we will all have a chance to take our little bows and then turn to watch in awe the reentrance of the lead actor, Jesus Christ, “the head of creation.”
As he comes on stage to take his final bow, the lights grow brighter, and the praise from the whole audience of creation is deafening.
This concludes Friar Jack’s reflections on Blessed John Duns Scotus and his amazing understanding of Christ.