251. Transforming Your Mass Experience with the TOB Lens Pt. 1

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[NOTE: This two-part series of blog posts are excerpted from Christopher’s new book Word Made Flesh: A Companion to the Sunday Readings (Ave Maria Press). The book highlights the next liturgical cycle (C) beginning with Advent, and subsequent cycles will be released before Advent in 2019 and 2020. Order the book individually or at our exclusive 50% parish bulk discount here (US shipping only at this time). Order the e-book version here.]

Christianity is the religion of the “Word” of God, a word which is “not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living” (St. Bernard). If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, “open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures” (Lk 24:45).

—Catechism of the Catholic Church, 108

The sacred words of Scripture are, of course, critically important to our faith. “Still, the Christian faith is not a ‘religion of the book,’” as the Catechism insists (108). It is the religion of the Divine Word that “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). Scripture, in fact, will remain a dead letter unless every word of it is read in view of the Word made flesh.

That is the purpose of the volume you now hold in your hands. Inspired by the scriptural vision St. John Paul II unfolded for us in his 129 Wednesday audi­ences from 1979 to 1984 that came to be known as the “Theology of the Body” (TOB), the brief, prayer­ful reflections on the Sunday readings in this book are intended to “open [our] minds to understand the Scrip­tures” by reading them in light of “the Word which is incarnate and living.”

COR THOUGHTS 273: Seeing the Gratuitous Beauty of the Human Body


In this weekend’s Gospel, Jesus employs some extreme words to warn us of the seriousness of sin: “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna.” Modern adaptation: “If your iPhone causes you to sin, throw it away. If your laptop causes you to sin, get rid of it.” Yes, this is the seriousness with which we should seek purity of heart. But, let us also be clear on this point: If at first we must “pluck out our eyes” in our struggle against sin, “if we persevere in following Christ our Teacher,” says John Paul II, “we feel less and less burdened by the struggle against sin, and we enjoy more and more the divine light which pervades all creation.” In turn, this light affords “an ever greater awareness of the gratuitous beauty of the human body, of masculinity and femininity,” says John Paul II. “This is most important, because it allows us to escape from a situation of constant inner exposure to the risk of sin – even though, on this earth, the risk always remains present to some degree – so as to move with ever greater freedom within the whole created world [including in] our relations with … the opposite sex” (Memory and Identity, p. 29). Lord, give us eyes to see!