I recently handed in a theology assignment on the theological methods of John Paul II. Don’t worry I wont bore you with the details here! But a part of that assignment looked at the criticism theologians have laid out against John Paul II’s ‘Theology of the Body’.
Reading and researching these criticisms I found they boiled down to one thing: what John Paul II was proposing was just too hard! We are fallen human beings and we need a bit more lee way, right?
To them, (and anyone else despairing over the difficulties of authentic love) I say – don’t forget Sunday! Do not forget what has been achieved. For you. Or to quote Christopher West “Do not empty the cross of it’s power!”
Raising the Bar
When we look at Jesus’s words in relation to love and lust and marriage, so many times he seems to just be raising the bar. When the Pharisees point out that Moses allowed divorce, Jesus points out that it’s not the way it was in the beginning. When people feel pretty proud of themselves for not having cheated on their spouse, Jesus says, “well, if you even have a lustful thought you’ve already cheated!”
What’s going on?! Is Jesus just trying to set us up for failure?
The apostles certainly thought so. They decided it was probably better to not get married if it means you have to stay with the same woman your whole life! But that was before the cross, before the empty tomb.
The difference of Jesus’s death and resurrection
After Jesus death and resurrection, these same apostles marched gladly to their deaths and Peter (who denied even knowing Jesus three times) insisted on being crucified upside down. They gave up their bodies, their lives, to the one who gave it all.
We too can tap into the power of the resurrection, we too can give up our bodies, our lives, for love. Lay them down as a sacrifice for others. After all, no more can be give up then already has been – for you.
So don’t despair! Pick up your cross (take on the struggle and challenge of living radically). And lay it down at the empty tomb on Sunday (recognise and experience the joy that comes from a life lived as it was meant to be). Don’t join the sad-sack theologians who complain that the higher calling is unattainable. Just live and love, knowing the freedom and capacity to do so has been bought for you by the love of God.