REFLECTION: Glorifying the body PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 May 2014 11:08

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

Yes, there is such a thing as glorifying the body. St. Paul said it clearly in one of his epistles. To those who, like the Manicheans and the Puritans, think that the body is bad, an object of shame, or that it should be disciplined, if not suppressed in some way, some clarification is definitely in order.

Obviously, glorifying the body does not mean either that we, like the libertarians, pamper it out of vanity, pride and their ilk. That certainly is glorifying the body the wrong, if sweet, way. That, sadly, is also a rampant phenomenon that urgently needs correction.

We glorify the body properly when we glorify God in our body. St. Paul explains it this way:

“Your bodies are the shrines of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in you. Ad he is God’s gift to you, so that you are no longer your own masters. A great price was paid to ransom you. Glorify God by making your bodies the shrines of his presence.” (1 Cor 6,19-20)

Still in another part of the same epistle, St. Paul teaches: “Your bodies are not meant for debauchery. They are meant for the Lord, and the Lord claims your bodies...Have you never been told that your bodies belong to the body of Christ?” (6,13)

This is, of course, a truth of faith that we need to process well so that it becomes an incarnated part of our life, an operative principle in our thoughts, words and deeds. Our body is as constitutive of our being a human person as our soul. That is why we really have to take care of our body as much as we take care of our sou        We have to be most wary of the current world trend—in fact, the dominant, mainstream culture—that considers the body simply as an object, subject mainly if not exclusively to physical and biological laws, and other natural and worldly conditionings, without relating it to its most radical foundation who is God.

That kind of mindset divorces the body from our personhood. The body becomes a mere object, and not anymore a constitutive part of our being a person. That understanding of the body detaches the body from its proper orbit that is made up of its intrinsic relationship with God, with our soul, and with everybody else.

The body degenerates its dignity into a mere instrument or tool for purely pragmatic purposes or toy to play with, an ornament to show off. It loses its significance as the very expression of our love for God and for others, especially the love proper between man and woman, husband and wife.

The body, seen this way, is vulnerable to the stirrings of pride and vanity, greed and envy, lust and sensuality. It follows a lawless path that would surely lead it to go pffft sooner or later. It loses its potential for an eternal life of bliss, exchanging it with a poor puddle of earthly and temporal pleasure.

This culture is expressed in many ways. When, for example, we consider the body only or mainly in its physical attributes, and basing our ideas or criteria of bodily beauty and health in these terms only or mainly, then we are considering the body simply as an object.

When what strikes us more is the physical beauty or strength of the body rather than its spiritual beauty as expressed in its capacity for love, fidelity, kindness, patience, mercy, etc., then we are surely treating the body as an object only.

We have to purify and overcome this culture. We should not succumb to the rationalization that to be realistic, we have to avoid making too many theological considerations about the body and just do with it whatever comes more or less naturally, which actually means surrendering to our passions and to merely worldly conditionings.

Glorifying the body by glorifying God in it is a very gratifying thing to do. It may require some sacrifices and self-denial, but these are meant to make the satisfaction of having glorified body surer, purer and lasting.

We have to see to it that we don’t subject the body only to the natural and physical laws. It has to be thoroughly infused with the spirit that is the Spirit of God, the source and end of all things.

The body so infused will simply be glowing with goodness, love, generosity, etc., in spite of the imperfections it may have in its physical and natural dimensions.

These are truths we should consider when thinking of what to do with our body.