How our world, our modern day culture, is in need of Easter’s Redemption! We live in a world where love and happiness are so often confused and drained of their true value. Love is often reduced to a thing of convenience or a fortunate emotion. Happiness is most often mistaken with a feeling to be fancied in the moment or having all of our indulgences met. As we celebrate the great mystery of Easter, the love of God that loved us to the end and brought us out of death into new life, we discover a new hope for a world that is so disillusioned and confused about love and happiness.
We discover that we are made for more. The dignity and beauty of who we are as human beings, body and soul, having been made in his image and likeness, takes on new meaning in the Light of the Resurrection. Our Lord’s suffering in the flesh and resurrecting in the flesh redeemed man and the very image of man. The Easter Mystery of Resurrection gives us hope in many dimensions: that we have been delivered from our sin, we’ve been brought back to the life of grace in him, and we can hope to live “in the flesh” as He always intended, holy in his sight, in his image and likeness and thus rediscover the truth about love and happiness.
The teachings of Saint John Paul II on the Theology of the Body remind us of this great truth and hopeful promise. “Through the fact that the Word of God became flesh, the body entered theology… through the main door.”(TOB 23:4) When we speak of the human body as theological and the sacramentality of the body, we discover its expression and significance best when we consider the great mysteries of our Lord’s Incarnation, Suffering, Death and Resurrection.
As the Catechism reminds us: “‘The flesh is the hinge of salvation.’ We believe in God who is creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the resurrection of the flesh, the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh” (CCC, 1015)
When we look at who we are in our bodies, our desires for love and for happiness, it is easy, in today’s world, to lose perspective of the gift we receive. John Paul II pondered this in his “meditation on givenness” when he said:
It is important to recognize that it can happen that this gift ceases to be disinterested and sincere in the realm of the human heart. One man can become the object of use to another. This is the utmost threat to our civilization, especially to the civilization of a materially affluent world. A disinterested, loving predilection is then supplanted by the urge to take possession of the other and use him. Such an urge is a great threat not only to the other, but especially to the person who succumbs to it. Such a person destroys within himself the capacity to be a gift, and thus destroys the capacity to live by the precept: “be more a man;” he succumbs rather to the temptation of living to: “possess more and more”—more pleasures, more experiences, more sensations, fewer real values, less creative suffering for good, less readiness to sacrifice self for the good and beauty of humanity, less participation in Redemption.
As we celebrate the Easter Mysteries we are reminded of how the Son of God came to set this straight, helping us to “know the gift of God” as he said to the Samaritan woman at the well. Rather than seeking to possess or use one another, Christ came as a gift to all people and offered his body
upon the altar of the Cross to win our redemption. What an eloquent statement of the gift of the body, of “living in the flesh” and for us, being “redeemed in the flesh”.
The answer to the world’s questions for love and happiness are here before our eyes. When we consider the Mystery of Redemption and gaze upon our Lord’s beaten body upon the Cross we are reminded of the gift he made of himself. When we come to the Eucharistic table of the Lord we receive the very gift of his Body and Blood offered for us. When we wait with Mary at the tomb and then are dazzled by his glorious resurrected body, we learn a new lesson about love and happiness. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:3 NASB). When we learn this lesson of love and learn to give ourselves in love as he did, we discover the depths of love and are opened to a new kind of happiness, one that will satisfy our thirst – a living water that he promised at the well and offers us in his Resurrection.
Rev. Anthony Sortino, LC serves as the Chaplain of Canyon Heights Academy in Campbell, California. He was ordained with the Legionaries of Christ in 2006 and his work in the United States has taken him to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Virginia, North Carolina and Texas. Father Anthony has attended a Theology of the Body I: Head & Heart Immersion course with TOBI.