The Incarnation: Main Door for a Theology of the Body--Day 13
'The study of these chapters [Gen. 1 and 2], perhaps more than others, makes us conscious of the significance and necessity of the "theology of the body"...in this reflection we gain a vantage point that we must necessarily place at the basis of the whole contemporary science about human sexuality in the biophysiological sense...
And it is exactly here that reflection on the ancient text of Genesis proves to be irreplaceable. It constitutes really the "beginning" of the theology of the body. The fact that theology also includes the body should not astonish or surprise anyone who is conscious of the mystery and the reality of the Incarnation. Through the fact that the Word of God became flesh, the body entered theology--that is, the science that has divinity as its object--I would say, through the main door. The Incarna
tion--and the redemption that flows from it--has also become the definitive source of the sacramentality of marriage, which we will deal with more extensively at a suitable time.' (TOB 23:4)
Few Christians escape the tendency to distrust the body and to elevate the 'spirit', as if the former housed sin, the latter ideals unblemished by 'flesh'. Some may even cede sexual love to bodily lust ('better to marry than to burn') redeemed only by childbearing. Then comes the lament of the wife who accommodates her husband's 'lust' for the sake of 'family.' Wow. What a legacy for our kids. We need to repent.
Christian truth insists that we are an inseparable blend of body and spirit. And Genesis 1 and 2 makes clear that our 'blend' makes us a sign, a living witness of love for another. The co-humanity of male and female directs us to offer the whole of ourselves-spirit-infused body-for the sake of bearing witness to this God who reveals Himself in the fusion of man and woman. Hail, holy and earthy desire that invites us into spousal union!
Well, you may say, we live far from paradise now: our bodily urges tempt us more to fracture another rather than to form a divine tableau. Yet the invitation remains. Our humanity may be struck down by sin but is not destroyed. The edict of Eden persists.
All we must do is remember that Jesus took on 'flesh'--God housed Himself in a 'body' in order to redeem ours. That's why St. John Paul II says powerfully that 'the body entered theology...through the main door', aka the Incarnation! Jesus swings open to us today. He knows we may still view man and woman through blood-shot eyes. Might we invite Jesus to become the new, true lens though which we re-view our broken take on sexuality?
Charles Williams wrote: 'The Incarnation has forever hallowed the flesh.' Let us prayerfully ask Him to hallow our flesh and endow it with truth and beauty. May we aspire to the integrity of who man can be for woman, and woman for man--body and spirit.
Of note is the first part of today's quotation, which applies 'theology of the body' universally, to all humanity. St. John Paul II refuses to cede our sexuality to the 'world' and its pseudo-scientific guidance for sexual wholeness. (Anyone who has taken a clinical course on 'human sexuality' knows how devoid most are of moral and philosophical direction.) All human beings, regardless of creed, need to be trained in the truth of sexual dignity, anchored in the Divine. We do not create ourselves, and if we want to be authentically human in our creative, bodily offerings, we must recognize our Creator. St. John Paul II has the glorious audacity to insist that the entire field of contemporary sexuality be founded on this 'theology of the body.' Our bodies speak a better word, in truth a sign of the Word who creates and redeems us to be fruitful.
'Forgive us, Jesus, for limiting ourselves and others to broken images. We invite You into our eyes, the whole of our hearts, that You might help us uncover the beauty and power You intended for man and woman all along. We are them. Take us further in our integration, we pray. Help us to recognize the relevance of TOB for all persons, beginning with ourselves.'
'Jesus, please confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court.'