Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice
and breathed his last.
At that moment the curtain of the temple
was torn in two, from top to bottom.
The earth shook, and the rocks were split. – Matthew 27:50-51
Tomorrow’s solemn Feast of the Church, the “summer Easter,” is a magnificent aftershock in the wake of the Paschal earthquake by which Christ destroyed death and raised the human body into immortal glory to forever gaze on the Face of the Father.
This immense Feast the is the pledge of our own future bodily resurrection, a bold testament to the dignity of our body as integral to our identity. Contra popular language, your body is not just a ‘shell’ that you inhabit but will one day be gladly liberated from. Rather, it is sin that tears your body and soul apart at death, and only the saving power of an enfleshed God can reunite them into the unity that God himself established in the beginning. My soul is not “inside” my body, but I am an ensouled body and an embodied soul. As St. Thomas Aquinas famously said of the disembodied soul, “The soul is not I.”
Become aware of your body as you read this. The majesty! The mystery of the unity that you are! You, as priest of nature, join in yourself matter and spirit as a temple of ineffable dignity that, for those in friendship with God, also bears within the fullness of Trinitarian divinity. And though your body may be broken or infirm, weak and fragile, it is of infinite value in God’s sight.
So precious is the dignity of your body that God himself, the eternal Word of the Father, assumed our body as his own. Forever. Including (and especially) our broken and infirm, weak and fragile bodies as, by faith and Baptism, he also makes each of our bodies his own.
Jesus, the human face of God, is the Sacrament of God’s passionate love for the whole of us, body and soul.
What we do with and in the body, then, matters in a manner we cannot possibly fully conceive. St. Paul makes this point in a most offbeat and striking way, as he tried to convince the Corinthian Christians to cease participating in Corinth’s notorious prostitution cult:
Do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute
becomes one body with her?
For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”
But he who is joined to the Lord
becomes one spirit with him.
Flee from sexual immorality.
Every other sin a person commits
is outside the body,
but the sexually immoral person
sins against his own body.
Or do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God?
You are not your own. – 1 Cor. 6:16-19
So on the day when we honor the bodily resurrection and assumption of the Virgin Mary into the glory of the New Creation, be grateful for your animal nature, that you are flesh and blood; that you are the construction site where heaven and earth transact in a most marvelous exchange. In the End, it is through the human body that God will finally will transfigure the whole cosmos into the Risen beauty of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. To him be power and glory forever. Amen.