Scholars agree that the key to understanding Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s theology of evolution revolves around his concept of 'centro-complexity.' With a paleontologist’s eyes, the French Jesuit notices that all creation became more centralized and more complex as it evolved. He believed that, at the very beginning of the universe, God embedded a force in all things, driving them simultaneously to become more unified and more complicated.

I presume Sunday’s three sacred authors knew nothing about paleontology, but they were experts on centro-complexity.

We’ve frequently heard married people complain, "It was simpler when I was single!" That complaint helped form the creation myth which the Yahwistic author employs in Genesis 2 and 3. Though it was simpler for the man to be alone, Yahweh believed it wasn’t good for the man to be alone. Animals couldn’t fill the void. Only someone who is "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" — someone with whom the man could "cling and become one flesh" — could help remove the loneliness all humans experience. Yet, within a few verses, this intimate oneness will also trigger the complexity of sin and alienation (Gen 2: 18-24).

Complications

The author of the letter to the Hebrews believed a similar process of centro-complexity was put in motion when Jesus became one with the human race (Heb 2: 9-11). Although "He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin," and although He can now refer to us as His "brothers and sisters," this unity led Jesus to "taste death for everyone." Once Jesus decided to become one with us, things got very complicated.

The same concept is behind both stories in the Gospel (Mk 10: 2-16). The first, Jesus’ command against divorce, is generally accepted by the institutional Church. It flows from what the Yahwistic author said about the unity of marriage in the Genesis reading. No matter how complex the union is, "what God has joined together, no human being must separate."

The second, Jesus’ command about the children, is generally rejected by the Church. Children not only flow from intimate relationships, but also complicate relationships.

During my 30-year career as a marriage course teacher in Catholic high schools, I frequently asked my students to share their ideas about children. Though most looked forward to fulfilling the biblical command to "increase, multiply and fill the earth," some were convinced they would have more fulfilled marriages if they could eliminate kids from the picture. As one girl observed, "They’re a drag."

Go away, kid

Instead of looking at children as Jesus encourages His followers to do — as a way to better understand how we’re to approach our faith — many of us liturgical presiders regard them as just a distraction to be eliminated.

Though one of our major tasks is to help unify those participating in the Lord’s Supper into the body of Christ, we often think we’ve succeeded in our mission when we rid the community of any child-related complications. Whenever we look up and glimpse those in the community who have been exiled to the cry room, we know we’ve failed the centro-complexity text.

There’s one more aspect of Teilhard’s theology of evolution. According to his observations, force is always needed to push creation into centro-complexity. For most of our universe’s history, that force has been external and out of the control of the parties involved. Once we achieved reflexive consciousness — become human — the power must be internal and freely activated.

Teilhard often commented that the only force in the universe that can both unite us and at the same time develop our individuality is the force of love, the only force Jesus ever commanded His followers to employ.

(10/2/03)