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God’s Fingerprints by Richard Rohr, OFM

God’s Fingerprints by Richard Rohr, OFM

 There is one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all, and is within all. —Ephesians 4:6

Bonaventure took Francis of Assisi’s lay intuitive genius and spelled it out in an entire philosophy and theology. He wrote: “The magnitude of things . . . clearly manifests . . . the wisdom and goodness of the triune God, who by power, presence and essence exists uncircumscribed in all things.” [1] God is “within all things but not enclosed; outside all things, but not excluded; above all things, but not aloof; below all things, but not debased.” [2] Bonaventure spoke of God as one “whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” [3] Therefore the origin, magnitude, multitude, beauty, fullness, activity, and order of all created things are the very “footprints” and “fingerprints” (vestigia) of God. Now that is quite a lovely and very safe universe to live in. Welcome home!

Bonaventure continues:

Whoever, therefore, is not enlightened by such splendor of created things is blind; whoever is not awakened by such outcries is deaf; whoever does not praise God because of all these effects is dumb; whoever does not discover the First Principle from such signs is a fool.

Therefore, open your eyes, alert the ears of your spirit, open your lips and apply your heart so that in all creatures you may see, hear, praise, love and worship, glorify and honor your God, lest the whole world rise against you. [4]

It is hard to imagine how different the last 800 years might have been if this truly catholic vision had formed more Christians. But our common seeing has been partial, punitive, and prejudicial. The individual was allowed to decide and discriminate as to where and if God’s image would be recognized and honored. Sinners, heretics, witches, Muslims, slaves, Jews, blacks, natives, buffalo, whales, elephants, land, and water were all the losers. And we dared to call ourselves monotheists or believers in one coherent world.

Until we weep over these sins and publicly own our own complicity in the destruction of God’s people and God’s creation, we are surely doomed to remain blind; and we will likely keep looking for “acceptable” scapegoats. We always think the problem is elsewhere, whereas the Gospel keeps the pressure of conversion on me. As far as the soul is concerned, no one else is your problem. You are your problem. “You be converted, and live” says the biblical tradition (Mark 1:15).

Jesus tried to keep us within and connected to the great chain of being by taking away from us the power to scapegoat and project onto enemies and outsiders. We were not to break the chain by hating, eliminating, or expelling the other. He commanded us to love the enemy and gave us himself as universal Victim so we would get the point—and stop creating victims.