Each month, I hold a live Question & Answer chat on the Cor Membership private Facebook group. It’s one of the many perks of being a member. The topics are wide-ranging and often deal with real-life challenges of learning, living and sharing St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (TOB).
Beginning with today’s blog post, I will share from time to time some of the questions and my answers. I hope you find them helpful.
St. Paul tells us in this weekend’s second reading to conduct ourselves “in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27). What is that way? The other readings show us: generosity. Our God “is generous in forgiving,” says Isaiah in the first reading. And the Gospel parable about the landowner who pays a full day’s wages to the workers who only worked an hour is all about God’s generosity: “Are you envious because I am generous?” Since we’re made in God’s image as male and female, we would expect to see an image of God’s generosity written right into our bodies. And, indeed, we do. God made us sexual beings precisely to enable us to image and participate in the lavishness and generosity of his love. Interestingly, have you ever noticed that the word “eros” is at the center of the word gen-eros-ity? Christ “will be magnified in my body,” as Paul says in the second reading, whenever I live eros as the generous gift of myself for others.
[NOTE: This article is reprinted with permission by my friend and colleague Bill Donaghy. Bill is leading a weekend retreat Oct. 13-15 called Awaken: An Encounter with the Theology of the Body at Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, N.Y. This post originally appeared on the Theology of the Body Institute blog. – CW]
Who am I?
This fundamental question is asked ultimately by every person ever born. What is this great mystery of human life? What is our origin, and what is our destiny?
As Catholics, informed by Sacred Scripture (God’s Word) and the great gifts of reason and human experience (Man’s understanding), we propose the following points to serve as a kind of manual on this mission of self-discovery.
The readings this weekend are all about mercy and forgiveness. The Gospel parable of the unmerciful servant demonstrates that – “and this is daunting,” admits the Catechism – God’s “mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us” (CCC 2840). Forgiveness, however, is often misunderstood. It does not mean saying to someone who has wounded you, “It’s okay.” If it were “okay,” there would be no reason to forgive the person. Furthermore, forgiveness does not remove the offender’s responsibility before God. Rather, forgiving someone means releasing that person to God’s justice and mercy. As the Catechism wisely observes, “It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession” (CCC 2843). The hurt that the sins of others cause us is real. But, if we have the courage to allow the miracle of mercy to work in us, that hurt can be transformed into prayer, into intercession. Sin committed against us can become – if we allow it – an occasion of salvation, both for us and for the person who sinned against us. We pray that God would forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. “This crucial requirement … is impossible for man. But ‘with God all things are possible’” (CCC).
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Why two or three? Because that’s the basic building block of communion. This is how we “fulfill the law,” as Paul says in this week’s second reading: by loving one another. The Church is the embodiment of the call of the whole human race to live in love and communion. And that call to love and communion is revealed most fundamentally in our creation as male and female and the call of the two to become “one flesh.” Here, in the normal course of events, the union of the “two” leads to a “third” – the organic growth and expansion of human communion. When true human communion grows, without a doubt, Christ is “in the midst of them.” Christ’s promise to be in our “midst” is all the more telling when we link this with the words of Zephaniah: “the Lord is in your midst” (3:17), which literally means “the Lord is in your womb.” When we love one another rightly, we “conceive” Christ. Our bodies tell that story. Our bodies reveal the divine mystery.