Day 13: Rediscovering Our Lost Fullness
Editor’s Note: TOB is the abbreviation for Pope St. John Paul II’s book “Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body” Pauline Press ‘What Christ demands from…all His listeners in the Sermon on the Mount clearly belongs to that interior space in which man—precisely the one who listens—must rediscover the lost fullness of his humanity and want to regain it. This fullness in the reciprocal relation of persons, of man and woman, is what the Teacher demands in Matt. 5:27-28, having in mind above all the indissolubility of marriage but also every other form of shared life of men and women, the shared life that makes up the pure and simple guiding thread of existence…’ (TOB 43:7)
That ‘pure and simple guiding thread’ is written in our hearts--as sure as our origins in Eden, and as cracked as earth shaken by the catastrophic impact of sin on male-female relating. Sexual harmony became hostility east of Eden. We still bear the beauty and the hope of Eden, however buried, and our great Excavator Jesus is ever intent on retrieving our gift from the deep.
He seeks the original blueprint of our humanity—we are persons who image the dignity of God in our distinction as male and female and in communion—our reciprocal reliance upon one another (TOB 69:4).
First, we need fire. He seeks out broken images who smolder—not with pure desire but with lust, fear, and controlling self-reliance. He invites the broken to His consuming love where He transforms hearts of stone into soft receptors. No good imposing Eden like an ethical millstone on the hardened! He somehow awakens the defended heart then loves us into surrender. Endowed with His Spirit, we begin to burn with a new purity and longing for integrity in our love.
Second, this awakening is about relational communion. Eden implies more than marriage and kids; it means reciprocal, dignifying relations between men and women. Pope St. John Paul II refuses to reduce male/female relating to electricity, fickle power surges of infatuation. To be sure, the good pope loves human love and how our bodies cooperate in earthy self-giving. But he points out the danger of our tendency to split attraction from communion.
He points out the ‘deformation’ of heart that occurs when man or woman veer away from communion with a person—body, soul and spirit—and reduce him or her to mere attraction (TOB 32:1). He insists that unless we discipline ourselves to know and love whole persons, passion tends to burn out before love is tested and proven true, worthy of the Imago Dei.
Third, ‘rediscovering our lost fullness’ is always directional. Human sexuality is relational and born of the duality of man for woman, woman for man. I take issue with persons coming out of sexual disintegration, usually same-sex attraction, who claim to aspire to biblical or ‘holy’ sexuality but exclude themselves from the dance of Eden. They say things like, ‘God calls me to holiness, not heterosexuality.’ I agree on the misuse of heterosexuality if by that one refers to a 20th century designation that covers the mess we’ve made of the Imago Dei. But no human is exempt from the call to dignify his or her ‘other’ in the multiple forms of ‘shared life between men and women.’ That is always Jesus' redemptive direction in the lives of His own.
‘WE MUST SEEK TO REGAIN THIS LOST FULLNESS.’ We can only seek to regain it if we know what we are regaining. And ‘seeking’ implies volition: the will to reach and rediscover. We are responsible for that truth. We can align our will with Jesus’. We will encounter something deeper and truer in us that bears witness to our origins and launches us forward into the dance of Life.
‘Human life is by its nature “co-educational” and its dignity as well as its balance depend at every moment in history and in every place of geographic longitude and latitude on “who” she will be for him and him her’ (TOB 43:7).
‘Jesus, rouse the gift we are. Help us to attend to the treasure you summon from the trash. Free us from our constant faultfinding and free us for vestiges of paradise in our memories and in our lives today. We refuse the liar who tries to rewrite Eden out of our histories. Unite us to the home of our original dignity.’
‘Jesus, have mercy on us as Your Church. We have abused weaker members, including children, and protected ourselves. We have violated the most vulnerable. In Your mercy, free us to superabound with justice. Grant us Kingdom discernment and courage to reform ourselves. May our repentance grant us Kingdom authority to strengthen the weak, discipline violators, and restore the violated.’