Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What is the body/spirit connection?

Question What is wrong with thinking that there is no connection between physical and spiritual, and that is only symbolic? If we believe it to be a physical sign of a spiritual reality, then isn't it symbolic? I can understand how it is a more special symbolism than other kinds, but isn't is still symbolism rather than an actual connection?

AnswerIt's kind of like the passage where Jesus spits and makes mud to heal a blind man. He didn't have to do that- but he uses physical things because they make sense to us. The Bible is full of counts of people doing something physical- lifting their hands, bathing in the Jordan, touching dead bones of a prophet.

Humans are both spiritual and physical. Though God is pure spirit, for our sake, he relates to us at both these levels. Some people (dualists) think of the body as like a prison for the soul- and when we die, we shed the prison. But the body is actually as much who we are as the spirit- this is why even the body will rise again at the end of the world.

It's like the fact that Jesus took on a body, and really, physically dies. He could have saved us without doing that- but He chose not to. These things indicatethe value of our physical nature.

The body-spirit connection have been very understated historically- this is why Pope John Paul II worked so hard to develop the Theolo9gy of the Body, that our bodies are 'sacraments'- physical signs- of our spiritual realities, and the two are intrinsically linked.

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