Picture: The Risen Christ by Marco Basaiti (1470-1530) – Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Paper delivered at the 2021 Veritas Amoris Conference “The Truth of Love: A Paradigm Shift for Moral Theology,” at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, USA, on June 26, 2021 in response to José Granados’ presentation: “The Body of Christ: The Ultimate Foundation and Full Realization of the Unity of Truth and Love“
“St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross says to us all: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie.” John Paul II at the Canonization of Edith Stein
The significance of the physical body of Christ as the place of truth returns the Christian to contemplate the love that shines forth from the humanity of Jesus and offers the splendor of the transfigured Christ. The Transfiguration is purposely and subtly placed in John’s Gospel that upon summarizing Jesus to be the true Tabernacle in John 1:14 (by the verb used for “dwelt”) the very second half of that same verse recalls Christ’s Transfiguration: “we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father.”
The Melkite eparch Joseph Raya summarized that the Eastern tradition considers John’s Gospel a reflection on the Transfiguration with all of John’s refences to glory (see Transfiguration, Ontario, Madonna House Publications, 1992). Moral theology is inseparably an exploration of the mystery of Christ’s body, since John Paul the Great’s encyclical on moral theology is about the Splendor of Truth. It was released on the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6) to highlight the splendor of Christ which reveals the human vocation to take on Christ’s holiness and likeness to enter eternal life. The Transfiguration reminds Christians that Christ’s body is the mystery not just of God, but God’s own flesh. It is Christ’s flesh which eliminates all fractures between exteriority and interiority, truth and love, male and female, and even flesh and spirit, time and eternity.
Choosing to follow Saint John’s Gospel, Father Granados began with emphasis upon the body, upon the flesh and objective reality. He traversed the path of the “common truth” in order to show that there are truths and realities which contain within themselves the love and beauty that touches and transforms human existence. It was an emphasis on how the finite contains and offers glimpses of the transcendent. The world’s objective impact upon human senses has awakened dreams, hopes, searches, and new loves. The path Granados constructed is that of the Western heritage and the Common Doctor: love is upheld by intelligence for love’s fulfilment. The Prima Pars, Question 43, Article 5, Reply to Objection 2, Aquinas writes:
Whereas the Son is the Word, not any sort of word, but one Who breathes forth Love. Hence Augustine says (De Trin. ix 10): “The Word we speak of is knowledge with love.” Thus, the Son is sent not in accordance with every and any kind of intellectual perfection, but according to the intellectual illumination, which breaks forth into the affection of love, as is said (John 6:45): “Everyone that hath heard from the Father and hath learned, cometh to Me,” and (Psalm 38:4): “In my meditation a fire shall flame forth.”
Granados wished to give access to Jesus not first through a subjective search but rather through the truth of an objective presence so beautiful that it has the power to unite all things in heaven and on earth (cf. Ephesians 1:10). This presence awakens true desires and new affections that only the Word made flesh can awaken and realize within humanity to heal all fractures. In a Balthasarian sense, we might say that the path is analogical and catalogical at the same time [cf. Angelo Scola, Hans Urs von Balthasar: A Theological Style, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1991] – presentation of the bodily being of the Word – in order that the image of God in man can experience Christ’s surpassing presence. Christ takes us up into the truth about God through the beauty of Christ’s virtues, himself the true image of God…the truth about God.
Granados followed the work of Ignace de La Potterie’s thesis in The Truth in Saint John’s Gospel rather than Bultmann’s thesis that Jesus as “the truth” is synonymous with his invisible divinity. He presented that in Bultmann there is insufficient focus on the mystery of the flesh. And we might add: just as there is false doctrine in Lutheran attempts to express the Eucharist in the Lutheran failure to properly relate flesh and Spirit. Contrasting with Bultmann, the emphasis via Granados and de La Potterie is on the truth of the flesh which is more than a mere sign of the Logos’ presence, but is the Logos’ very own flesh and reality. It is an important emphasis that in the flesh of Jesus is the encounter with the one who teaches with authority and manifests the truth in time and space.
The encounter in our shared time and space – our common reality – moves us from the common desire for intangible and universal truth to the only true love that touches and transfigures us for a share in a higher reality; a word that breathes forth love. Sharing our bodily space, the Word-Incarnate enters our interior through what we have “seen” and “heard” (1 Jn 1:1-3). This knowledge of reality that is granted by Jesus’ body – and the eyes of faith – takes us into interior mansions that Jesus will construct when his human will draws his human body into a total self-giving upon the Cross and then arises in the glory he possessed before the foundation of the world.
As Granados chose to follow the meaning of truth according to St. John’s writings and the emphasis on the flesh, one should recall the purpose of John’s Gospel in the words of the apostolic witness of Papias: “The Apostle John wrote [his Gospel] against heretics at the request of many bishops” [cf. Jerome, De Viris Illustribus]. It is of little doubt that one of these bishops was Polycarp who also received the aid of the letters of Saint Ignatius writing to Polycarp’s church is Smryna the following:
They [the heretics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again.
It was the problem with Cerinthus and Ebionite gnostics and their explicit rejection of the Apostolic teaching on the Eucharist that led to Saint John’s Gospel. Like de la Potterie and Ignatius of Antioch, Granados placed Saint John’s statements about Jesus and Jesus’ words about truth within Christ’s constant liturgical context of himself as the true temple. Jesus’ temple references always had direct or implicit reference to the Eucharist and a sacramental worldview. For this reason, Granados’ emphasized the Eucharist as “Jesus’ central rite, as the proper place for understanding what he means by identifying himself with the truth.” Clearly this central rite would be impossible without Jesus being bodily; bodily even now in heaven in the fulfilled glorified body. It is by the glorified and mysterious body of Christ that he unites himself with Christians in the Divine Liturgy…a place where the liturgical is inseparable from mystical union.
Here it is good to reflect on Granados’ point: “The truth is the Logos who has taken flesh and has manifested himself to our flesh, including our senses and our affections.” When John speaks of the Logos it is always in the context of affecting our senses and bringing us into authentic liturgy. The liturgical and sacramental must affect our senses as did the body that Christ took from Mary. In John’s first letter, it is about that which we have “seen or looked upon with our eyes” and “touched with our hands” and “heard [with our ears],” in other words: that which we have verified. And what is the basis and etymology of verification? It is the word veritas, the first word in the Veritas Amoris Project: Truth. Veritas. What kind of truth? A truth that has shared our common space and a body that breathes forth love and so it is liturgical because Saint John moves from verification to koinonia: “that you may have fellowship [κοινωνίαν or communio] with us.”
Granados’ examination flowed from Jesus the Truth to Jesus the Temple, the new place of a higher shared life. The word became flesh that we may worship in Spirit and Truth and so have union with the Father; that we may be led from truth to fulfillment by unitive love taking us to a higher life and reality. Augustine’s De Trinitate speaks liturgically of knowledge and truth that enables movement from image to archetype in Book XIV:
This trinity of the mind is not therefore the image of God because the mind remembers itself [memory], and understands [intellect] and loves [will] itself; but because it can also remember, understand, and love Him by whom it was made. And in doing it is made wise itself…Let it then remember its God, after whose image it is made, and let it understand and love Him. Or to say the same thing more briefly let it worship God…” [or give itself to God through their wills in the faith of Christ] (Chapter. 12 in E. Hill translation)
God cannot become unlike himself in trying to raise humans to himself and so humans must enter the truth of God to be raised into authentic love. Humans must conform to God’s life-giving form of charity. Worship is key since true worship brings about likeness and union with God when it is God’s initiative, revelation, and institution that exercises our freedom to consolidate a share in God’s own life and divinity. Worship and the temple must come from above and not from below…another fracture Christ eliminates in taking flesh. Through Christ, the temple itself enters us and leads our worship and integration into true and higher love.
In emphasizing God’s institution of worship and not simply human reasoning about worship, this paper has been leading into a slightly humorous anecdote to highlight the point: A priest from Philadelphia and the seminary there told a tale about the Cardinal Archbishop of Philadelphia. It seemed to be about Cardinal Krol in the 1960s or ‘70s being met by a Lutheran minister on the streets before getting into a car. In an effort to affirm his Christian bona fides, the zealous Protestant concluded his part of the brief encounter by pushing a usual cliché: “I’m glad we’re united in that we worship the same God.” The Cardinal affirmed the Lutheran’s efforts with a poignant witness to the truth, “Yes, we do worship the same God.” He rectified any false ecumenism with the closing affirmation: “You worship God your way, and I worship God… His way.”
Not only must we see authentic liturgy as something that comes from above, we must see it as bringing us into the fuller truth through public and shared interaction. Returning from Granados’ point of Jesus the truth to discussion of Jesus the Temple, it is important to consider the question Granados raised: “What is the relationship between the body and the truth?” He led us to the point that “the human body opens the space of truth”, “a space that allows a shared vision of the world” and the “space of correspondence or adequation to the other person.” This allowed for a world where the development of love, communio and shared vision can occur; hopefully a vision that allows the intercommunion of persons to return to the truth of their origins and beginnings. It is not a place of forcing the truth on others, but rather of giving space for the truth to meet the freedom of persons and lead them forward through affections they recognize as good and fulfilling.
For Granados, the bodily space that enables intercommunion and joint searches – the witness of “where two or three are gathered” (cf. Mt 18:20) – must not stop at merely a shared dream or enclosed vision. It must reach the inherent love of reality and truth; the something more than themselves in which they participate. “To have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10), the joint searching becomes an entrance into the truth which leads beyond each other and which leads to acceptance of the truth of the gift of bodily life and its goodness. The experience of the truth involves the realization of being a recipient of a gift which we did not give to ourselves but which was generated ultimately “from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).
In a softened heart, the good soil, the discovery generates an affection which impels the desire to live in the movement of the truth of our shared origin inside the one in Whom “we live and move and have our being” as the ancient Greek poets wrote and said, “For we are indeed his offspring” (Acts 17:28). For Saint Paul, is it not bodily being, time periods, and shared space and boundaries of habitation that are supposed to lead us back to the truth about God and ourselves as creatures (Acts 17:24-27)? This is not some new-fangled philosophy to emphasize the importance of how objects impose themselves upon subjects and elicit new knowledge and affections. Afterall, any Athenian of that time in the Areopagus was familiar with Plato and Aristotle.
Granados’ focus upon bodily existence as allowing us to enter “the space of the truth” moves from the body as providing both physical and cognitive space to consideration of Jesus’ flesh as opening the ultimate Temple of God to humans. Clearly the Logos took a body in order to become the true Temple and draw all men inside himself as their true home. Jesus’ body, Jesus the Temple, is where the image of God in humans is completed in divine communion; through the true vine and many Eucharistic references which Father Granados covered. As he already pointed-out, Saint John established the movement from body to Temple with the Logos taking flesh in John 1:14 and Jesus’ explicit clarification that he is the true Temple in John 2:21. Additionally, it should be recalled that Jesus came to construct many mansions (spaces to dwell) per John 14:1-3 and all of this in the context of his immediate institution of the Eucharist.
The true Temple in heaven, the unity within the circumincession of the Persons of the Most Holy Trinity – that mutual indwelling through the total gift-of-self – had entered into time by the bodily incarnation of the Logos in order to draw every human into Their infinite joy and mutual indwelling. The truth of the body of Jesus is the key to entering this divine mode of existence; it is the Way, through the Truth of the ‘space’ that Jesus’ bodily and incarnate manifestation opens up for us. However, we must see with Saint Maximus the Confessor, that taking a body is inseparably about taking a human will which is made for love and permanent commitment. The human will is the pinnacle of the point of having intelligence; an intelligence which develops within chronos-time in order to receive eternity. By God’s grace, the human will is made to hold eternity within it [cf. Veritatis splendor #39]. Similarly in the Letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 10, “a body is prepared” for the Logos in order that eternity can unite with time and time can surrender to eternity.
Remaining within the movements of John’s Gospel and other constrictions, Father Granados only had a moment to touch upon how Hebrews 10:20 complements Saint John’s thought with Jesus being the “new and living way” to go into the Holy of Holies through the veil of Jesus’ flesh (which is already alluded to by John 1:14. Here, Granados invited us to reflect on his point that “only the body allows us to enter a space that opens beyond ourselves, that is, a space from which we can know the world and manifest ourselves in it,” instead of our being trapped in false dreams, false religion, false morality, and false politics. It is God’s institution, and not man’s imagination, that makes the mystery possible. It is why Bonaventure reminds us within the Breviloquium that me must consume Jesus not only with our mouth but with our wills and faith (cf. 9.6).
In the same chapter of Hebrews 10, Christ is presented as realizing the truths of Psalm 40 : “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me.” Clearly the sacrifices are references to the Old Law and bulls and goats, so why does the author of Hebrews seemingly interpolate that Christ needed a body in order to die a bloody death if God did not desire bloody sacrifices and offerings but rather a human will? Saint Gregory Nazianzen is clear the sacrifice is not a ransom payment but for the sake of our deification (cf. Second Easter Oration, section 22). Likewise, why is Saint John so adamant in his letters that Jesus came by water and blood? the blood Granados discusses in his conclusion.
Christians must take note how key the body is to fulfilling what was only given in shadow and type in order for the reality (the full-truth and realization) of unitive love ultimately to be achieved. In Christ, now the body has become the opportunity to achieve union with the Spirit through the virtues of Christ. The body has been made for the Spirit who is Love. The gnostic divide of body and spirit must be cast aside as another false philosophy crushed by the weight of Christ’s bodily glory. In the words of Saint Augustine, Platonism is false religion and Christianity is true philosophy.
In his study of ecclesiology and sacramentality, Benoit-Dominique de la Soujeole writes about the movement from Revelation-truth (prophetic foreshadowings) to Revelation-reality (full manifestation of the promised truth). From type to anti-type, Soujeole leads the reader to understand the Church as musterion as described in Ephesians 5: “and this a is a great musterion [or sacrament] I mean in reference to Christ and the Church [becoming one body].” The Revelation-reality is about commitment, covenant, and verification of the truth in time and space and not just the cognitive aspects of mind or nous. We might even compare truths that are only cognitively grasped by nous to their manifested and shared reality by relating marital vows and promises to the nuptial union which concretely expresses them in time and space and can even manifest real love in a third person. Notice even how Saint Paul in Romans 12:1-2 makes clear that nous is only transformed through actions of the body held in sacrifice to the loving will of God. It is all highly liturgical.
Mysteries or Catholic sacraments, Revelation-reality, are not merely a sign of things promised to human minds of things to come, but the very presence of the reality necessarily taking up bodily space and experienced by the senses and in community. This is the very meaning we express in the term musterion which we translate sacramentum. Soujeole draws out the relevant point for Granados’ paper as regards sacramentality and mystical union in the liturgy: “Mystery must not be equated with the invisible; what is visible is as mysterious as what is invisible” (Introduction to the Mystery of the Church, Washington, D.C., CUA Press). In other words, the invisible is not the only part of the mystery, but also the visible sign which discloses it. We must take notice how truth is disclosed by the flesh – how truth is disclosed by the body. The truth is not only about the Logos but the Logos in the flesh.
We see here the difference between Bultmann and de la Potterie in Granados’ points. Accordingly, De la Potterie’s Catholicism grasps Saint John’s sacramental worldview instead of gnostic salvation which can be called truths for gnostics. De la Potterie will not allow truth-telling and reality to be separated from historical embodiment or manifestation. For Bultmann, “I am the Truth” is about the invisible Logos and so truth and the body can be separated. For de la Potterie, “I am the Truth” is the mystery of Jesus’ flesh and so maintains Saint John’s and Saint Ignatius of Antioch’s answer to the gnostic heretics who thought actions in the body do not matter but only truths held in the mind.
John the Apostle could not be more clear: the body is the Truth and one cannot separate freely revealed actions from the person who discloses them! Perhaps this clarifies why those who deny the importance and goodness of the body are of the anti-Christ according to Saint John’s turn-of-phrase. What we choose to love with our bodies manifests the truth about our minds’ and our wills’ commitments. More fearful, according to Romans 12 – “present your bodies as living sacrifices” – taken together canonically with the same thought of 1 Corinthians 10 & 11 – that we must not indulge in immorality… and eating and drinking without discerning the body – we bring those bodily commitments into our sacramental worship.
So why does a body matter so much to the actual realization of men and not merely their cognitive acceptance of truths? Why does it matter as regards the truth of love? A beneficial response should move from Granados’ discussion on “entering the space of the truth,” or even the room we need to recognize the truth of our distinction from one another, to a discussion of why Divine Revelation says Jesus took a body. Building on Granados’ point that “the body is the space where the experience of truth can happen,” we should look at how this opens insight into Hebrews 10:9-10 and the new Tabernacle veil which Granados only touched upon in Hebrews 10:20.
Saint Paul is very clear that a body is needed for the human will to be manifested and for true sacrificial love to take place. Shed-blood, freely laying down one’s life for one’s friends, is the very sacrament of Christ’s human will revealing the truth of love. Freely-given blood, sweat, and tears is the truth of love and why demons flee at the mention of the blood of Jesus. The Word took flesh in order to have a human will and thereby reunite man with God in the union of wills (the human in the Divine) so as to bring man into God’s “house” by his own blood. Therefore, the Letter to the Hebrews, just after stating “a body have you prepared for me” (10:5), explains: “Behold, I have come to do your will” (10:7). In his fully human condition [cf. Saints Gregory & Maximus], Jesus cannot choose the Father’s will and renew humanity without a human will…a human body.
Reality is deeper than we cognitively grasp by reason and so only revelation takes us into its depths of things visible and invisible. All of 20th Century physics and 21st Century physics thus far accepts that actual space and time are inseparable. This tells us that our bodily dimensions of length, width, and height [the author is avoiding weight and fat index so he can feel better about himself] are inseparable from time. The body itself is thereby the opportunity for time and time to change or develop…the very task of the body and spiritual sacrifices in Christ of Romans 12. Without time, without a body, there is no time for development or for the human will to change its mind or develop the person in virtue.
After death there is no more body and therefore no more time to change one’s own will. After death comes judgment because there is no more time to change one’s self by one’s own powers. [This explains the role of the Liturgy’s prayers for the dead.] The body is therefore the very gift of time and time to change; and, in humans time was made for eternity. The body and life and time are one gift in a unity. The human body makes possible not just space for important cognitive realizations, but for time to change and time for development in love. Development presumes truth and the truth of love. The body gives the space and time to exercise freedom for advancement in human love if we want eternal life. There can be no advancement without truth from that which came before us [note the prior discussion on Acts 17], because in the words of John the Baptist, “After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me” (Jn 1:30).
The Logos took a body (inseparable of the human will), so that eternity could be within time; the reality and presence of God truly within the world of creatures (substantially manifested and not just truly). God is really, truly, and substantially in our midst as Jesus Christ; two thousand years ago in Jerusalem and now in heavenly glory and mysteriously in our liturgies today. Since Jesus is the Logos, his human will exists through the very subsisting existence of the Logos. His body has manifested the truth into time, into chronos. The Word incarnate, Jesus’ human thelema (or human will) is inseparable from eternity and abides fully within the Father’s bosom.
For us to unite our wills with Jesus’ will through divine faith is to be united to eternal life itself [cf. the “consolidation” language in VS #39]. In such a union our human wills begin to abide in the Divine Will…the love of the Most Holy Trinity. Through Jesus’ mysterious body, Jesus has given a way for our human wills to be joined to his sacrifice on the Cross and total gift-of-self to the Father. He is the “Amen.” As Saint Paul says, “That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God” (2 Cor 10:20). By his Spirit, Christ now lives in our souls and flesh and unites himself to us from heaven. It is the great mystery (cf. Colossians 1). By faith in Christ, Jesus enables us in the Sacrifice of the Mass gradually to enter his human will, to consolidate within us his will to live for the Father, and abide progressively in the Divine Will via the development of his virtues within us.
Hebrews 10:10 explains: “And by that will [thelemati] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Which thelema? The Father’s intention to save or Jesus’ free-willed response to live a life of gift-of-self to the point where Jesus could say “Amen” no deeper than bodily death as we imitate in every liturgy and anamnesis? The will of the Father that Jesus should reveal the truth of love (cf. John 3:16) – eternal life inside the foundation of all existence – and the will of Jesus’ human body are inseparable from how humans are invited to partake in the truth of love.
In other words, we who live in the bodily mystery of space and time, God is building us into the true Temple which is accomplished in the human will of Jesus Christ, abiding in the one Divine Will of the Most Holy Trinity. Here the imago Dei is realized in the imago Christi. Jesus’ body is the sacred time now opened for us to be transformed by his body via the liturgy he established in his death and commission to the Apostles to “Do this in memory of me.” The truth of the tent-Tabernacle [Exodus 33:9; 34:34-35; John 1:14] has been realized by bringing humans to enter into the circumincession of the Most Holy Trinity (in human transformation into the truth about God) as humans are made sons in the Son through the Sacred Heart of Jesus…the very truth of love.
The glorified and risen body of Jesus Christ makes this truth and reality possible through his historical and bodily-passion. The Sacraments are not merely signs pointing to the reality, they are the reality already present in the signs, because they are participations in the glorified body of Jesus Christ, the Temple into which the Spirit builds us. Listen carefully to the opening prayers prayed at Mass (the Collect) for the First Friday’s of the Sacred Heart: “Clothe us, Lord God, with the virtues of the Heart of your Son and set us aflame with his love, that, conformed to his image, we may merit a share in eternal redemption.”
Therefore “the Truth is in Jesus” (Eph 4:21); the Word that breathes forth love and that elevates human existence, not just by his words but by his bodily actions: “Man has no greater love than to lay down his life for his beloved” (John 15:13). We know we are loved by the choice of Jesus to enter into our deaths and accompany us in death in order to defeat death for us in the offering of his body and blood to the Father. He takes responsibility for us. Our elevation by love is absolutely and firstly inseparable from truth: the truth of love. Authentic love cannot be accomplished without the Truth which structures our inner longing for God and life: the common truth in the public work of liturgy.
This allows us to quickly address a key point by Granados: “The body of Christ now appears not only as open to the Father (filial meaning), but also as capable of incorporating the believers into Jesus himself (cf. Jn 1:13). This means that, besides the filial meaning of the body, there is also a spousal meaning, as the context of the dialogue with the Samaritan woman confirms.” Granados returned to the point of the realization of the human person through the self-offering of Christ and the loving commitment of the believer to live for Christ as their true heavenly spouse.
Christ gives us his divinity through his bodily humanity as we enter into his total gift-of-self; his human will being revealed in the blood and water that gushed from his side and now accepted by us as a source of true life. Impelled by the truth of Christ’s love, signified and shown in the water and blood, we give our bodies (through our wills and bodily actions) daily as a dwelling place for God’s divinity. In the words of Saint Catherine of Siena, “The glory goes to God but the benefit only accrues to us” (cf. The Dialogue). Likewise, Saint Paul encouraged: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship…and be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom 12:1-2).
The truth of the need for development in the body through the action of the human will (living in the truth of love) hereby becomes more evident. The body is God’s gift to us by which we move from time into eternity. The body is time to change and the task of the body is the time and space the human will needs to move from time into eternity…into the Divine Will; from this earthly tent into the heavenly tent (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1) which Jesus has created for us in the mansions of his Father (cf. John 14). The very clothing Saint Paul mentions is not an extrinsicist position, but the divinity that more fully clothes us and “swallows us in divinity” (2 Corinthians 5:4) while not eliminating our humanity because the clothing is Christ’s own virtues in his humanity.
For this reason, after referencing Christ’s “glory and virtue” [arete] in which we are called to partake (2 Pet 1:3) and the “great promises” (a.k.a the sacraments as pledges, oaths, and down-payments), Saint Peter says Jesus makes us “partakers of the divine nature” (1:4), but emphasizes with Saint Paul that we must grow into what we received (cf. Ephesians 4:16). Since we are bodily creatures living in space and time, we are incorporated into eternity through a duration of time and choices of the will which are now in Christ and empowered by Christ. Christ impels us to live for the truth of God’s love and the truth of how to love one another.
Thus, immediately after saying we have been made partakers of the divine nature, Saint Peter reminds us and warns us about epithumia (or disordered passion… not loving in truth) and says that through Christ’s “promises” [the sacraments] we should: “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue” [arete] (2 Peter 1:5), “be more zealous to confirm [verify] your call” (2 Peter 1:10) “so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom” (2 Peter 1:11). It is clear we progress and grow more fully into Christ through his divine power at work within us to will and to work.
Peter is thereby saying much that the Veritas Amoris Project wishes to recover and brings us back to themes of Saint John’s and Father Granados’ point. Central to Saint John and to Saint Peter are the transfiguration of Jesus Christ where Jesus the true Temple is being manifested to us as the true Temple of God’s dwelling with man. We enter Christ through an extension of his glorified body to live in the divinity that is inseparable from Him. His body has provided a new space for us to objectively participate in God through a true union of wills. Truth has led us into authentic union and higher life through love. The body is not an obstacle to the Spirit, but the very means of entering the Spirit in truth and not imagination.
Matthew A. Tsakanikas is an associate professor of Theology at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, USA.