THESE SCRIPTURES move with us from Christmas to Epiphany, drawing us into the mysteries of the divine life in the world. The incarnation is a call to notice where the Spirit surprises us with God’s presence. Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe guides our vision: “Christ is, indeed, to be found in the present but precisely as what is rejected by the present world,” he writes. Christ “is to be found in those who unmask the present world, those in whom the meaninglessness and inhumanity and contradictions of our society are exposed.” God’s mysteries are revealed among the rejected and despised, the people who expose society’s promises as the hypocrisies of political brokers who ensure the prosperity of the millionaires and billionaires—and, soon, the world’s first trillionaire.
To believe these scriptures about God’s presence is to realign our solidarities, to become conspirators with the One whose justice is liberation from the economic, political, and social patterns that are destroying life. These structures that organize our world for the benefit of the powerful are in the midst of collapse. They are “passing away,” as Paul claims. We’re always living through human self-destruction, with the United States as an instance of history’s cycles of cataclysm. If we want to go on in hope, then we must love those God has created, and give ourselves to the despised and rejected, to our neighbors caged in prisons and segregated from us by the border. There, God will astonish us with epiphanies: life’s survival on the underside of history.