WITH the celebration of the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady (August 15), we somehow are reminded of the role of our body in our life insofar as our eternal destination in heaven is concerned.
Yes, our body is also meant for heaven, for glorification by sharing the glory of Mary who was assumed to heaven body and soul as the first fruit of Christâ€™s redemptive work through his passion, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven.
Itâ€™s a truth of faith that should not be lost in the overload of info and data that we have today. In fact, itâ€™s a truth that we should be most interested in, since it is an eternal truth, and not just a passing one. Itâ€™s a truth whose implications as to our duties and responsibilities toward our body here on earth should be lived as faithfully as possible.
We need to realize more deeply the importance of the body in our life. Our Catechism teaches that: â€œThe human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritualâ€¦The human body shares in the dignity of the â€˜image of Godâ€™â€¦
â€œThrough his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material worldâ€¦He is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.â€ (CCC 362 ff.)
Our attitude toward the body and the material world, I am afraid, has suffered a dangerous mutation, a radical reversal of Godâ€™s designs for them. We seem to be falling into two extremes.
One is to consider the body as completely evil, as when the distinction between the body and the soul becomes exaggerated that they by nature become hostile to each other. This mindset is prevalent among those who may be regarded as â€˜too spiritualâ€™ in their life.
The other extreme, the more common one, is to consider the body as completely good, with no more need for spiritual animation and direction. This is the case of a variety of peopleâ€”the hedonists, the naturalists, etc.
We need to understand that our body is organically linked to our spiritual and supernatural character of our life. While distinct, it cannot be separated from our integral human nature and condition, from our beginning and end, and from the plan and purpose God our Father and Creator has for us.
It is important that all of us acquire a proper understanding of the world of our flesh and the whole material reality. We have to be quick to recognize their original goodness, since they all come from God, as well as the distortions that came and continue to come as a result of our sins.
What is crucial is that we know how to enter our body and the material world into the dynamics of divine love that is supposed to characterize our life here on earth and, of course, beyond.
The theology of the body, ably systematized by the late Pope now St. John Paul II based on what is revealed in the Gospel and developed in Church tradition, etc., will show how the body has been designed by God for this purpose.
It takes into consideration our bodyâ€™s original state of goodness and its fallen, wounded nature after sin for which the pathways for its redemption were given to us by Christ.
Here we will see how the language of divine love for our body necessarily involves the character of gift, which is actually a sacrifice that involves self-denial and the whole reality of the cross as dramatized by Christ himself.
The theology of the body definitely deserves to be taught as widely as possible, given the current situation where there seems to be a rush toward a body cult without the animation of faith and charity. Itâ€™s pure unredeemed flesh in all its raging wildness and lawlessness!
On the one hand, thereâ€™s a lot of vanity and arrogance, the so-called concupiscence of the flesh. On the other, we can have a spirituality that knows next to nothing about the entire reality of our fleshâ€”a disembodied spirituality.
We should all recognize the indispensable role played by Christâ€™s cross, the whole scope of the spirit of sacrifice, that puts our flesh in its proper placeâ€”in profound humility and â€œextravagantâ€ desire to love the way Christ loves us.
We should always feel the edge of the cross so that our body behaves as it should! Christâ€™s cross is the bodyâ€™s liberation and glorification. (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)