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Life and Beauty in Oikonomia

Life and Beauty in Oikonomia

Osamu Takeuchi

There is essentially a desire for beauty in life itself.  In other words, the vector of life usually aims at beauty.  Beauty in this sense is nothing but the unity of truth, goodness, and beauty.  However, two common characteristics of beauty stand out.  First, there is necessarily order in all beauty as the principle which gives serenity to the individual and peace to the community and society.  Second, there is resonance between us and the object of beauty.

God bestowed order when he created each creature.  “God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good” (Gen 1:31).  At the core of all beauty is order.  Conversely, wherever there is order there is beauty.  This order is serenity for the individual and peace in the community and society.  St. Augustine said that peace is the tranquility of order (tranquillitas ordinis).  Wherever there is order, there is necessarily tranquility which is the essence of peace.  Therefore, if we try to aim at the realization of peace, we first of all have to achieve serenity in ourselves and to be ready for building up peace in our community and society.

Jesus showed us God’s beauty. Jesus lived out his whole life without any reservations.  Therefore, the will of God totally appeared in him and the life of God has been transferred to each one of us.  “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me” (Jn 6:38).  Jesus showed his disciples how to serve others during the last supper.  Specifically, he began to wash the disciples’ feet.  As most of us know, it is a work for the lowest slaves at that time.  By this act he teaches us the importance of being humble and of serving to others.  After washing their feet, he said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another” (Jn 13:34) – this is, as it were, his will and testament.  At the same time it is an invitation to communion with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit because “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8).  To serve each other is to love each other.  In this way, Jesus revealed to us God’s beauty.

Oikonomia (divine economy) is the mystery of salvation and God’s providential plan.  In particular, this is explained as the plan of the mystery in the letter to the Ephesians as follows:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.  In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.  In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.  In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth (Eph 1:3-10).      

St. Irenaeus calls this summing up all things anakephalaiosis (recapitulation). Christ, as the incarnation of God’s Word, lived out his whole life without any reservations in accord with the will of his Father and gave us his life totally.