Memorial of Saint John Paul II, pope
(Romans 6:19-23; Luke 12:49-53)
One of St. John Paul II’s legacies will surely be his Theology of the Body. Presented as a series of meditations for his Wednesday public audiences, the doctrine explains human sexuality. Rather than the betrayal of self with sin that St. Paul writes in the first reading, John Paul finds sexuality achieving the human purpose. It demonstrates not only fulfillment of God’s will but also the human way of imitating God’s loving.
Paul recognizes that humans have misappropriated sexuality. Rather than using their bodies as a means of self-giving, humans have allowed them to become instruments of self-seeking pleasure. The result has been, as Paul points out, disillusionment ending in disgrace and ultimately death. But Paul is not fatalistic. He knows that Christ has overcome the reign of sin. Because of this victory of their brother, all humans can live free of carnal domination.
We must make an effort to overcome the selfish inclination. Christ’s grace has enabled us to use sexuality rightly. When we do, sexuality is not devoid of pleasure. Rather the pleasure is ordered to our true goal in life, a loving union with God.