The last enemy to be destroyed is death, for “he subjected everything under his feet.” But when it says that everything has been subjected, it is clear that it excludes the one who subjected everything to him. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will [also] be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all. — 1 Corinthians 15: 26-28 (from the last page of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s journal, written three days before his death).
This Sunday is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings can be found here. We are nearing the end of the liturgical year. Next Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King and the following Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent. The first reading and the Gospel are apocalyptic literature that focus on the end times.
Today’s reflection comes from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard de Chardin wrote a lot about the end times. In The Phenomenon of Man and The Future of Man Teilhard explained his evolutionary theology where the Omega Point, or Christ the second person of the Trinity, was drawing both the material and spiritual dimensions of the universe towards greater Unity. The following is taken from The Future of Man and was written in March 1924 in China:
“Forced against one another by the increase in their numbers and the multiplication of their interrelations — compressed together by the activation of a common force and the awareness of a common distress — the men of the future will form, in some way, but one single consciousness; and since, once their initiation is complete they will have gauged the strength of their associated minds, the immensity of the universe, and the narrowness of their prison, this consciousness will be truly adult and of age. May we not imagine that at that moment a truly and totally human act will be effected for the first time, in a final option — the yes or no as an answer to God, pronounced individually by beings in each one of whom the sense of human freedom and responsibility will have reached its full development?
It is by no means easy to picture to ourselves what sort of event the end of the world could be. A sidereal catastrophe would be a fitting counterpart to our individual deaths, but it would entail the end of the earth rather than that of the cosmos — and it is the cosmos that has to disappear.
The more I think about this mystery, the more it appears to me, in my dreams, as a “turning-about” of consciousness — as an eruption of interior life — as an ecstasy. There is no need to rack our brains to understand how the material vastness of the universe will ever be able to disappear. Spirit has only to be reversed, to move into a different zone, for the whole shape of the world immediately to be changed.
When the end of time is at hand, a terrifying spiritual pressure will be exerted on the confines of the real, built up by the desperate efforts of souls tense with longing to escape from the earth. This pressure will be unanimous. Scripture, however, tells us that at the same time the world will be infected by a profound schism — some trying to emerge from themselves in order to dominate the world even more completely — others, relying on the words of Christ, waiting passionately for the world to die, so that they may be absorbed with it in God.
It is then, we may be sure, that the Parousia will be realized in a creation that has been taken to the climax of its capacity for union. The single act of assimilation and synthesis that has been going on since the beginning of time will then at last be made plain, and the universal Christ will blaze out like a flash of lightning in the storm clouds of a world whose slow consecration is complete. The trumpets of the angels are but a poor symbol. It will be impelled by the most powerful organic attraction that can be conceived (the very force by which the universe holds together) that the monads will join in a headlong rush to the place irrevocably appointed for them by the total adulthood of things and the inexorable irreversibility of the whole history of the world — some, spiritualized matter, in the limitless fulfillment of an eternal communion — others, materialized spirit, in the conscious torment of an endless decomposition.
At that moment, St. Paul tells us (1 Cor. 15. 23 fi) when Christ has emptied all created forces (rejecting in them everything that is a factor of dissociation and superannuating all that is a force of unity), he will consummate universal unification by giving himself, in his complete and adult Body, with a finally satisfied capacity for union, to the embrace of the Godhead.
Thus will be constituted the organic complex of God and world — the Pleroma — the mysterious reality of which we cannot say that it is more beautiful than God by himself (since God could dispense with the world), but which we cannot, either, consider completely gratuitous, completely subsidiary, without making Creation unintelligible, the Passion of Christ meaningless, and our effort completely valueless.
Et tunc erit finis.
Like a vast tide, Being will have engulfed the shifting sands of being. Within a now tranquil ocean, each drop of which, nevertheless, will be conscious of remaining itself, the astonishing adventure of the world will have ended. The dream of every mystic, the eternal pantheist ideal, will have found its full and legitimate satisfaction. “Erit in omnibus omnia Deus” (Translation: “So that God may be all in all”.)
Tientsin, March 25, 1924
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “The Future of Man“, pp. 308-310).