Workshop (6) b- The Spousal Meaning of the Body, con.

John Paul II, at the audience of January 9, 198, said that he body is a “witness” to the the gift character of existence and to reciprocal giving:

This is the body – a witness to creation as a fundamental gift, and so a witness to Love as the source from which this same giving springs. Masculinity and femininity – namely, sex – is the original sign of a creative donation and an awareness on the part of man, male-female, of a gift lived in an original way. Such is the meaning with which sex enters the theology of the body.

 (In the Waldstein edition see p. 182-183 the audience of January 9, 1980; on Vatican website look here).

Dr Waldstein put it very simply: upon seeing the body one should say, “Ah, gift.” The body is for gift, that is for love. John Paul II sees this a the way the body appears in human experience, if not reduced or distorted through disordered appetite. And he sees this truth as a matter of original revelation. When scripture says that it is not good for man to be alone, and that he needs “a help” (and that the order of animal creation surrounding him does not complete his aloneness or provide the help to overcome that aloneness) . One must be “with” another person and “for”another person. The help is so as not to be alone.John Paul II says:

In this way, these two expressions, namely, the adjective “alone” and the noun “helper,” seem to be the key to understand the essence of the gift at the level of man, as existential content contained in the truth of the “image of God.” The gift reveals, so to speak, a particular characteristic of personal existence, or rather, of the essence of the person. When God-Yahweh said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” (Gn 2:18) he affirmed that “alone,” man does not completely realize this essence. He realizes it only by existing “with someone” – and even more deeply and completely – by existing “for someone.”

 John Paul II derives a “norm for existence” from this truth of the theology of the body.

This norm of existence as a person is shown in Genesis as characteristic of creation, precisely by means of the meaning of these two words: “alone” and “helper.” These words indicate as fundamental and constitutive for man both the relationship and the communion of persons. The communion of persons means existing in a mutual “for,” in a relationship of mutual gift. This relationship is precisely the fulfillment of “man’s” original solitude.

The exclamation by Adam, “she is flesh from my flesh and bone from my bone,” acknowledges the wonder of personal existence in its capacity for reciprocal gift; JP2 said: “Exclaiming in this way, he seems to say that here is a body that expresses the person.” The alternative is to first approach sex without “person,” without reciprocal gift. But that too would leave man in his solitude, alone, and with out a “helper.”

Theology of the body is the alternative to reductionism. Waldtsein’s translation is superior here: “This simultaneity [affirming sexuality and personhood] is essential. In fact, if we dealt with sex without the person, this would destroy the whole adequacy of the anthropology that we find in Genesis. Moreover, for our theological study, it would veil the essential light of the revelation of the body, which shines through these first statement with such great fullness.”.

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