Rediscovering Our Lost Fullness: Day 16
‘What Christ demands from all His actual and potential 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 having man and woman, is what the Teacher demands in Matthew 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. Human life is by its nature “co-educational” and the dignity as well as its balance depend at every moment of history and in every place of geographic longitude and latitude on “who” she shall be for him and he for her.
The words spoken by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount have without any doubt such a universal and deep reach. Only in this way can they be understood on the lips of him who “knew” to its final depth “what was in every man’ (Jn. 2:25) and who at the same time carried within Himself the mystery of the “redemption of the body,” as St. Paul put it. Should we fear the severity of these words or rather have confidence in their salvific content, in their power?’ (TOB 43:7)
This passage contains my favorite quote of TOB: ‘Human life is by its nature co-educational and the dignity as well as its balance depend…on “who” she shall be for him and he for her.’ In a gathering recently with Christopher West and Company, I quoted the abbreviated version and West added the portion this amateur omitted: ‘at every moment and in every place of geographic longitude and latitude.’
That’s big. How I view and treat the women in my life will impact the dignity of thousands. I do not only mean Annette—St. John Paul II here refers ‘to every shared form of life between man and woman’—but my daughter, my mother, my female colleagues and neighbors, female humanity. Period. Did you know that your self-gift as a sexual being impacts always the opposite gender, for better or for worse? God made us co-educators: we offer ourselves to this other in myriad ways but always distinctly as male or female. Our ‘instruction’ leaves a sweet or bitter taste in our mouths, priming us to ask: How good is my gift? How good is the other’s? How good is this God who subjects me to this duality daily?
Gendered co-education is constant and universal, capable of confirming our true selves or deforming them. Consider your own family-of-origin. Did parents model a winsome, earthy pic of co-educational harmony? For some, a lovely glimpse, for others, co-ed hostility, for still others, a weary single mom giving all without him.
We then recognize in St. John Paul II’s words a reminder that through Jesus we have a say in ‘rediscovering our lost fullness.’ True that! Cracked images aside, we are each capable of knowing the truth: He has never lost sight of our true gift. Further, He calls us to live that truth. Jesus insists that we (with Him) launch out into mundane, dramatic expressions of man for woman and woman for man. We bear this harmony in our bones more deeply than hostility; we must exercise the gift we are for him or her. The balance and dignity of humanity depends on it.
‘Thank You Jesus for giving St. John Paul II foresight for the whole world regarding the impact of our sexual humanity upon one another. Help us to trust You Jesus to redeem our gift as we say ‘yes’ to offering it. We do so in faith and wisdom as to clarify and not confuse the value of our co-educators.’
'Jesus, thank You for confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court, Your bright light in a dismal political season.'