In this weekend’s second reading we hear: “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17). To say “God is love” is the same as saying “God is gift.” For to love is not just to give a gift, but to be a gift: the gift that love gives is the gift of self. Of course, as John Paul II observes, “the concept of ‘giving’ cannot refer to nothing. It indicates the one who gives, and the one who receives the gift, as well as the relation established between them” (TOB 13:4). The one who gives the gift is God, the one who receives the gift is man (all of us, male and female), and the relationship that is established between them is “spousal.” In this relationship, God is always “masculine” and man (all of us, male and female) is always “feminine.” Why? Read the language of our bodies and we see readily that it is the masculine principle that first gives the gift and it’s the feminine principle that first receives it. We say “first” gives or “first” receives because, as John Paul II also observes, the giving and receiving of the gift interpenetrate in such a way that the very act of giving becomes receiving, and receiving becomes giving (see TOB 17:4). The sexual difference tells this story. It’s not just biology. It’s theology. Lord, give us eyes to see your Mystery revealed through our bodies!
This Sunday’s second reading contains a passage that, according to St. John Paul II, summarizes the entire teaching of the Bible. “It is what God … wishes above all to transmit to mankind in his Word” (TOB 93:2). “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:31–32). Christ is the new Adam who left his Father in heaven. He also left the home of his mother on earth. Why? To give up his body for his bride (the Church) so that we might become “one flesh” with him. Where does this happen? In the Eucharist. Here “Christ is united with his ‘body’ as the bridegroom with the bride,” John Paul II tells us (Mulieris Dignitatem 26). God wants to marry us! That’s the whole Bible in five words. And he wanted that eternal marital plan to be so plain to us that he stamped an image of it right in our bodies by making us male and female and calling the two to become “one flesh.” O Lord, give us eyes to see our bodies as a sign of your eternal plan for us!
In this weekend’s second reading, St. Paul tells us not to “get drunk on wine” but to be “filled with the Spirit.” There is a holy intoxication that comes as we quench our thirst on God’s Spirit. Yet how does the Spirit reach us? It doesn’t circumvent the material world. We get drunk on the Spirit precisely by drinking divinely inspired wine: “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Christ assures us in this weekend’s gospel that his flesh is true food and his blood is true drink. “Come, eat of my food and drink of the wine I have mixed” (first reading). St. Teresa of Avila, commenting on Christ’s invitation to his bride, exclaims: “Well, then, let her drink as much as she desires and get drunk on all these wines in the cellar of God! Let her enjoy these joys, wonder at these great things, and not fear to lose her life through drinking much more than her weak nature enables her to do. Let her die at last in this paradise of delights; blessed death that makes one live in such a way.” When people get drunk on wine, what they’re really desiring is the ecstasy of union with God. The real party is the wedding feast of the Lamb. Everything else is a cheap substitute.