Day 7: Incarnation--Hinge of Wholeness
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
‘The fact that theology also considers the body should not astonish or surprise anyone who is aware of the mystery and reality of the Incarnation. Theology is that science whose subject is divinity. Through the fact that the Word of God became flesh, the body entered theology through the main door’ (TOB 23:4).
Jesus’ incarnation is a bold move. Scandalous. In assuming flesh, God humbles Himself; exciting that our wholeness hinges on His humility.
This mystery releases a ‘thrill of hope’ in me. It echoes a longing for freedom: freedom to move in the gift of my masculine sexuality. Incarnation is all about the Gift that frees us to be gifts. Jesus assumed a sexual human nature to free us in ours. That’s the scandal and the excitement.
On a recent plane flight, I was spiritually stirred to contemplate Jesus as a baby. Strange setting for a Bethlehem visit, but I take what I can get. This Catholic was moving in the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit. Flight attendants, buckle up!
I was in an edgy, vulnerable state, experiencing some anxiety. I couldn’t shake it or identify its source. I sensed uneasiness in my body: not overpowering but draining. It silently stole my joy. Tempted to doubt my authority, I felt undercut as a man by this intruder.
Jesus asked me to pick Him up, much like I might cradle my little nephew. I could see in the Spirit that my hands were full, unable to hold Him. I couldn’t identify sin or lust, just a host of vaguely troubling thoughts.
The Incarnation wanted to go deeper. The Babe of Bethlehem, hands extended, wanted to secure me in love. I needed to open to Him and take hold of Him. His fleshy, sacred heart beat against mine and calmed me. The power that makes all things new rested in my arms. God drew near in His littleness, as in the host. Eucharistic.
Jesus wanted my undistracted heart so I might trust Him wholly. He wanted me to contemplate Him as Gift. He gave Himself so I could give myself lovingly & joyfully.
Quiet tears released me from anxiety. The babe infused my weary body and will. Jesus secured me again in my gift, and renewed confidence in His Incarnational power.
The Incarnation gives our bodies theological significance. Jesus assumed our bodily sexuality. Genesis is our foundation, the Incarnation our elevation. Jesus in the flesh is on the move. Take hold of Him.
‘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.’