What in the world does this mean? As human persons, we cannot see God because he doesn’t have a body. He is pure Spirit. And yet, we long to ‘see’ God and to know him. God placed that desire inside of us. He wants to make His mystery visible to us, so He stamped it into our bodies and created us in His own image (cf. Gen. 1:27).
Bodies are tremendously important to human life. They are created in two forms (male and female) so that they can unite into ‘one flesh’. Both the body and the conjugal act are considered to be good by God. In His original plan, the physical union of the two genders perfectly reflected the union of the Trinity. In other words in the beginning, Adam and Eve knew that their bodies were good and that their union was good. Thus, they were able to be ‘naked without shame’.
Adam and Eve understood that the bodies are meant for love – never for use. They understood that each and every physical union was to reflect a total gift of self. They desired to give and receive each other completely in a spirit of reverence and tenderness. To them, sexuality and sexual acts were sacred.
Unfortunately, with the entrance of original sin, the union of the two bodies was no longer a perfect reflection of God’s love. Lust entered into the world causing sexuality to be misused and misunderstood. Bodies became objects of use rather than expressions of love. A desire to withhold part of oneself outweighed the desire become a total gift of self. Free, total and faithful relationships were replaced with incomplete and unsatisfying unions.
Pope John Paul II explained that humanity can reclaim the original plan for love and life and return to the right and true meaning of sexuality through the salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ. Through Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, we have been redeemed and can regain our ability to life God’s original plan for love and life. Of course, the return to what is right, good, true and beautiful in sexual matters will require sacrifice, mercy and patience. Just as Christ had to lose his life so that we might gain ours, the return to sexual purity and wholeness will require that we lose our life as well.
What are we to lose so that we might experience God’s original plan? We must throw off our selfish tendencies. We must resist temptations to look at each other as objects for our own pleasure. We must pray for purity. We must rid our lives of relationships, media and situations that cause lustful thoughts, or actions or words. We must recognize that only God’s strength and mercy we will return us to the way it was meant to be.
Pope John Paul II gave the Catholic Church many remarkable encyclicals and writings. Probably the most noteworthy has come to be known as The Theology of the Body (TOTB). This compilation of 129 audiences offered by Pope John Paul II from 1979 – 1984 presents a total vision of the human person. In it he describes the significance of the human body and how it makes the invisible, visible. In other words, it is through the actions of the body that a person reveals what is unseen. “The body and it alone is capable of making visible what is invisible, the spiritual and the divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the invisible mystery hidden in God from time immemorial, and thus to be a sign of it. (February 2, 1980)