The messianic is not about an external Messiah. Instead it concerns inner process available to all.
Mark 8:34-36 34 After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 35 All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. 36 Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? (CEB)
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]
I have been using the term “messianic” to describe an inner process, rather than an external person or process that “saves” us. I adopted use of the term without a clear description of its meaning for me. This is my attempt to do so.
There is a possibility within me — an opportunity, an occasion, a yearning, a potentiality! It is the possibility of wholeness of being — that which Jung calls Self. It is the integration of my shadow side with my conscious awareness. Such integration holds the hope that I might rise up to the level of ideals that I hold for myself (and not only I, but family, church, community, universe also hold these aspirations for me) — aspirations for peace, compassion, and justice. This possibility is not unique to me, it is open to you as well — open to all of humankind. It is the possibility that was most actualized by those great ‘spiritual’ leaders throughout history — Yeshua, Buddha, Confucius, Gandhi, … This possibility is identified in Jewish and Christian traditions with the Messiah / the Christ. The unfortunate reality of these traditions is that this process is traditionally identified with a particular individual (who has come or who is yet to come). In truth this dynamic messianic process is available to us all. The Eastern Orthodox spiritual tradition comes closest to affirming this process in their concept of divinization. I believe that this is also the essence of what the mystics call “union” with God.
There is another possibility within me — an opportunity, an occasion, a more likely outcome if I am not self-aware. It is the possibility of truncated being — it is living only out of my ego (that is, unaware of the unconscious parts of me that influence my conscious thoughts and actions). This possibility carries with it the likelihood of maintaining low standards and living through partial truths and unrealized hopes. This possibility is often talked about in Christian theology as original sin. But neither ‘original sin’ nor ‘original blessing’ contain the full story.
Two possibilities exist within. Merton talks about false self and true self. I would rather use the terms ‘actual’ and ‘possible.’ The ‘actual’ is who we are in relationship with others and (with the world). At every moment, in every relationship, with every choice we make, the ‘possibility’ is that we can follow either the path that moves toward or away from wholeness. While a few people in history have been so far to one end of the spectrum or the other that they are remembered as either evil or saintly, most of us demonstrate regularly that both possibilities are resident within us. Our character is a reflection of the balance between the two. The goal of Christian discipleship is to empower the inner movement toward the messianic.