Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
The devil is jealous of your body! Because of your body-soul composite nature, you are able to be transformed, to change, to convert, to grow in love. Totally spiritual beings (God and angels/demons) don’t change. The devil is also jealous of our flesh, because the Son of God took on our flesh. You and I have the flesh of Jesus Christ, the flesh of God! For all those reasons, the devil is jealous of your body. This was the crux of one of the talks from a conference I attended last week. The speaker was Dr. Luigi Santopaolo, a professor of Scripture and Patristics at Pontifical universities in Rome and Naples. He spoke to us via Skype.
The devil, because his angelic nature is simple (i.e., not made up of body+soul), made an irrevocable decision to turn away from God. St. Isaac of Nineveh said this was because the devil was given in an instant (since, there is no time involved in a totally spiritual being) the opportunity to see the great love of God for humanity in Jesus Christ crucified (by his body!), and the devil was unmoved. He couldn’t give himself to such love. In fact, he was appalled by it!
No wonder the devil likes to possess bodies. St. Isaac of Nineveh said the devil possesses people’s bodies in order to oppose the Incarnation. Demonic possession is a blasphemy against the Incarnation of the Son of God, i.e., against the fact that the Son of God took on our flesh – against the fact that we now have the flesh of Christ. Remember that it is now our body that makes us greater than angels, because the Son of God took on a human body. The devil is jealous of this. Not long ago, at Christmas, we celebrated the flesh of God, which forever changed our own flesh.
Meditate on these thoughts, in order to enhance your appreciation for how your flesh is one with the flesh of Christ. For Catholics, the human body matters so much:
St. John Chrysostom (paraphrase here): The Incarnation did not change God. Rather, God’s taking on human flesh changed all humans. It began the process of divinization, humans beginning the journey to be like God in holiness.
St. Athanasius (The Saint of the Incarnation): Because of grave circumstances around the definition of Jesus’ divine and human natures at the Council of Nicea in 325, Athanasius was given only one short moment to speak. His line? “Our flesh is His flesh, and that’s all!”
An adequate appreciation for the fact that our flesh is now the flesh of God leads to another very important point. Saint Athanasius noted in his treatise on the Incarnation that we do not ultimately avoid sin because of fear of punishment. That is insufficient reason. Rather, we avoid sin because we have become one with God’s noble flesh. Although moderns tell us that sins of the flesh, the body, are not important, that is not true. God’s flesh is ours. Our flesh is God’s. Sins against the flesh are sins against the Incarnation. The body matters that much!
Let’s remember before the Lord every day in prayer, “Lord, your flesh is mine. My flesh is yours.” And then… let’s not sin.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,