Body Language of Love
Jan 16, 2018
Body Language of Love
“Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”
It seems all we do during the frantic course of a day is listen. However, how much of what we listen to serves our purpose of growing as disciples of Jesus Christ? We can listen to a person speak German to us all day long, but if we do not know the language ourselves we understand nothing. And there is no more essential language to learn than love and since God is Love, He is the tutor whose services we must seek out.
The Book of Hebrews says: “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe.” The Father speaks to us through the Son. In fact there is no greater expression of love than the Incarnation. Therefore to listen to Christ is to understand who we are as men and women.
One of the most profound mysteries of the Incarnation is that God has flesh, bone and blood. We are all familiar with the concept of Body Language; well there is no greater school of learning this language than our Catholic Faith. As Saint Paul reminds us: “The Lord is for the body.” The body is not some kind of window dressing of the soul that gets tossed out at the end of our lives. If this were so why would we profess in our Creed our firm belief in the Resurrection of the Body? The Body Language of the Incarnation speaks unity and communion. Our bodies are made to speak the language of marital commitment which is the language of true love.
In Scripture, the phrase that is used to express the marriage consummation of husband and wife is “to know one another.” This is not to avoid using the word sex, but rather to express how beautiful and profoundly sacred marital relations are. How is it that we know anything? We have our five senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. We acquire knowledge through our bodies. Therefore when a husband and wife biblically know each other, they literally give the entirety of themselves to each other, body and soul. Knowledge not emotion is associated with the deepest love any person can experience on earth and this is the committed love of almighty God Himself which is written into our bodies and souls.
The Incarnation tells us that God wants a permanent and eternally committed relationship with us. The most powerful expression of God’s bodily love is the Eucharist. Our Amen before the reception of the Eucharist is our “I Do” in response to our Lord’s invitation to remain always united to His Life and Love. The words of Consecration are very similar words in meaning to those spouses to be speak at that same Altar: “This is my body which is given up for you.” Is not that the language of marital love and sacrifice?
In the more traditional marriage ceremonies during the exchange of rings, the spouses say to each other: “With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship…”The ring may be the symbol of their committed love but their bodies enflesh those vows and promises to one another in the marital embrace. And this is the power of the Incarnation: God has promised humanity since the beginning to enter into a lasting relationship with us: “I will be your God and you will be my people”. When Mary spoke to the Archangel Gabriel: “Be it done unto me according to thy word…” That was Mary’s I do to God’s wedding proposal. Her womb is the Bridal Chamber where God marries our humanity to His divinity. God’s love is fully and visibly manifested in the flesh and continues to be so at each Mass in the Eucharist.
Once this begins to settle in we now begin to understand that our bodies are truly tabernacles of God, sacred vessels that speak a language of truth, beauty, love and goodness. Therefore there is no such thing as pre-marital sex or extra marital sex…all sex is meant to speak the language of marriage. In Hebrews we hear: “Now, you have approached the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently 7 than that of Abel.” And how is it that blood can speak? This is a reference to Christ’s blood in the Eucharist…a living and animating blood. We see this Eucharistic expression of love in the life of a child. And who is a child if not the fruit of the union between his mother and father, the expression of their unifying love as husband and wife: that in becoming one flesh their one flesh and one blood then physically becomes one in the body and blood of their child. Their vows have been more perfectly enfleshed in the life of their child. A child’s life is the living expression of the marital love of his parents and the marital nature of sexual union.
The Incarnation is God’s most perfect and total gift of Himself…and that is what marriage is, the total gift of oneself to the other.