The other day, I mentioned how I was contemplating Spiritual Warfare during the season of Lent. I thought I’d start sharing about what got me thinking about that particular topic. So, today, I wanted to share about the video program (affiliate link) The Gift: Your Call to Greatness by Christopher West. While it was not directly targeting the topic of spiritual warfare, it struck me that if we are not rooted in our belief regarding our bodies being good and meant for good things then it is easy for attack to happen on this front.
This one hour program was given to me as the anchor of the high school youth ministry program a few weeks ago. While it was a somewhat painful experience for the high school students and even I was having the urge to see how much longer until it was done, this brief introduction to our call to greatness with an emphasis on the theology of the body gave me lots to ponder.
For those unfamiliar with the Theology of the Body, this is a collection of talks given by Saint John Paul II over the course of many years. If you’ve read any of his works, you’ll know that his writing is considered dense by many. Christopher West took the original work and put it into words that people could more easily grasp.
From a different work, Love and Responsibility published in 1993, he takes a quote from the late Pope:
“Man must reconcile himself to his natural greatness.”
Mr. West talks about desire and how we have an innate desire for God. Yet, we often succumb to idols (as actively promoted in our culture) which are finite things and can thus never fill that desire. Even those of us, who know we yearn for God and seek to live the life He wants for us, can find things in our lives which could easily turn into an idol. If I don’t quickly ‘check myself’ when reading my Facebook stream, I could begin to feel envy of all the good things in the lives of others and start doing things in a quest to acquire more likes and comments as if that will satisfy the deep burning in my soul. Or, I could allow the pursuit of things (e.g the latest technology) to become an idol as I am constantly wanting what is new even when what I currently have is sufficient.
In this program, the Biblical example used for this desire is the woman at the well (John 4:4-42). In her encounter with Christ, she is shown that her ‘idol’ or place where she sought to satisfy her thirst was the pursuit of relationships with men. She allowed an icon (marital relations) which serves as a sign of the joys that await us in heaven to become an idol. Unlike others in her life, though, Jesus does not condemn her actions but rather shows her the living water which WILL satisfy that thirst.
Our bodies are a sign of our greatness. Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body covers this in amazing detail while this presentation just skims the surface. While much is taught on marital love, the Theology of the Body is for everybody. After all, we are a union of body and spirit while on this earth, regardless of vocation. The spousal analogy which is found throughout Sacred Scripture, especially when describing God’s love for His people, was found to be the least inadequate by John Paul II.
Part of our personhood is sexuality. Our bodies were endowed with this and we are meant to proclaim the truth of Christ’s love through our bodies. However, like everything in this world the good can be perverted to bad including expressions of love through our bodies. We are seeing this in our modern culture with many things entering the mainstream which do NOT reflect true love.
In the Theology of the Body (37:6), Saint John Paul II wrote “One can speak of moral good and evil in the sexual relationship based on whether the couple gives their union the character of a truthful sign.” Any action we take can be put to the litmus test by asking whether the action truthfully reflects the image of the love of Christ for the Church.
As Mr. West shares, Christ’s love is free, total, faithful, and fruitful. This is where some people start to take exception (as if the faith is a buffet where you can pick and choose what to believe) and try to bargain on how they live their lives. If I use artificial birth control to avoid pregnancy, I am trying to avoid having my love be fruitful. If I allow lust to enter my marital relationship (even if it is your spouse for whom there is lust!), then I am not expressing a total or faithful love. And, if I put conditions upon my love, then it is not freely given.
This year, I am joining Trish @ A House Upon the Rock in co-hosting the 40 Days of Seeking Him meme. The linky will be up each week so you can add in posts daily, weekly, or whenever you are able. The posts can be about anything related to Lent and preparing for Easter ~ crafts, food, devotions, music or reflections are all welcomed.
I hope that my readers will join us on the journey through Lent as we seek to grow closer to Christ. Christian bloggers are welcome to join us in the weekly link up with posts that they are writing to showcase activities or reflections taken during this Lenten journey. Visit 4th Full Week of Lent (2015): Internal Conversion Doesn’t Mean Isolation to check out posts by me or other bloggers or add your own to the link up.
How do you respond to the knowledge that God calls us each to greatness?
Have you spent time studying Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body?