Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's All About the Body

Caro cardo salutis - these three words contain the whole of the gospel, the whole of salvation history and the entire plan of God! They are from Tertullian, written in the year 208, and they translate as saying the flesh is the hinge of salvation. Hold up... wass'at? The flesh? The body? This weak, fragile, and faltering thing that needs so much care and attention. THIS is the hinge of salvation? We're accustomed to hearing that the soul is what's saved, and that the very act of saving is a spiritual thing. What's the body got to do with it? "A body you have prepared for me," says Psalm 40, and echoed in the New Testament letter to the Hebrews. In the fullness of time the Infinite, All Knowing, All Powerful Word descended into time and space and took on our flesh. And so the body became a theology - a Word of God. The Word of God! But why? Why should the flesh be the hinge of salvation? Why couldn't God just say all's well. "I forgive you, come on home." Because we are our bodies! And we need saving. Our bodies are not like bags holding us, or decorations dressing the soul, like tinsel on a Christmas tree. Our bodies are not like pieces of luggage that allow us to carry our souls around, and once we reach Heaven we can empty out the suitcase. We are our bodies! We are embodied spirits, or ensouled flesh... a harmony, a unity of the material and the spiritual, unique in all creation! And when our First Father and Mother sinned in the Garden of Eden, the shockwaves of that act of disobedience rippled throughout the material world as well as the spiritual. We needed the Word to become Flesh, the Obedient One to come into our time and space - to walk and breathe and sweat and suffer for us who are so often disobedient. In His Body, He takes the bullet for us, dies, sleeps, wakes and rises again! We are saved in and through His Body. A real Body! So the flesh is truly the hinge of salvation, on which the door to Life swings open wide that was once shut tight. Ave verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine! Hail, true Body, truly born of the Virgin Mary mild. Truly offered, wracked and torn, on the Cross for all defiled, from Whose love-pierced, sacred side flowed Thy true Blood's saving tide: be a foretaste sweet to me in my death's great agony.
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