Guest blogger: Sarah Hennessey, FSPA
Photo by Chandra Sherin: http://chandrasherin.wordpress.com/
“She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.” – Mark 5:29b
I’ve never noticed this phrase before. But a few days ago during Mass these words shouted at me. The woman with the hemorrhage reached out bravely to touch just the hem of Jesus’ cloak and she was healed. She didn’t have to think about it. She didn’t have to be examined. She knew it directly and immediately in her body.
I am emerging from a long period of struggle where dullness and flatness ruled my days. Joy suddenly has flesh. I feel in my body a buoyancy right in the center of my chest which I tentatively name physiological joy. Anger seems brighter. Sadness has a texture. Joy is a bubble of light that lifts my rib cage higher.
I had to learn that the body gives us clues about emotions. When I feel hot, I realize that I am embarrassed. An urge for movement, to punch with my tight fists, awakens me to the emotion of anger. I am connected and whole. Body, mind and spirit are not random signals broadcasting on separate channels, but instead a unity that sings to me. Like the woman who touched Jesus, I feel healing directly in my body.
Body is central to the Gospel. We are the body of Christ. The revelation of God in Jesus Christ is incarnation– enfleshed in history. The body of Jesus suffered on the cross, not just his soul. And it was through the bodily resurrection of our Lord that the good news was revealed. We come to the table even today to receive his body.
Yet often we have sanitized and spiritualized the Body of Christ until it just a collection of floating souls and like-minded intellects without the flesh of a body. We recite the creed but, when it gets right down to it, how many of us really believe in the resurrection of the body? A risen body is the Christian truth, but in our world of scientific death as a finality we tend to fudge on this one a little bit. In my weekly Bible study, several women proclaim strongly that the resurrection of the body makes no sense.
What would my faith look like if I took seriously the resurrection of the body? What if I lived more like the woman healed of her affliction, knowing it so directly and personally in her body? When Jesus multiplies the loaves in John, Chapter Six, the abundance leaves leftovers. As Jesus explains that he is the bread from heaven he goes on to clarify, “And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it [on] the last day.” – John 6:39. Jesus claims all of us, even our bodies. He gives us back to the Father, whole and complete, flesh included.
Yes, we are the body. Not in some spiritualized sense, but truly with our bones and muscles and tendons. We cannot exclude the dignity of any of our brothers and sisters. We must put flesh on our words and action to the Gospel if we are to truly be the Body of Christ.