Sunday, February 19, 2006

Communion of Man and Woman: Icon of the Trinity

As we know, the traditional ways of seeing the image and likeness of God in man has been to breakdown one's soul into a tri-partite system, such as "memory, intellect, and will." But there is a distinction one must remember. God is not one Person divided into three, He is three Persons in a deep and eternal communion as one God.

JP II does not necessarily reject that traditional view of man's soul and it's breakdown. However, JP II points to the most important feature of God, that God is Love, and that this love entails a communion of Persons. This is going to bring about a dramatic different view of God's image and likeness which man is created in. JP II proposes that the primary image and likeness of God which man is created is in the communion of persons between male and female and that this is an icon of the Trinitarian life.

We therefore have a two-fold way of being made in the image and likeness of God.

In Original Solitude, man is revealed in the image and likeness of God through the act of reasoning that he is different from the rest of the animals as a unique entity compared to them due to his freedom to act according to free will. It is in this sense, the freedom of will and the act of reason, that man is made in God's image and likeness.

In Original Unity, God's image and likeness is conveyed in man in a unique way. It is through the communion of persons that man is made in God's image and likeness. Just as the communion of Persons in the Trinity is an act of free will, and act of love, and act of freedom, so to is it with man in male and female, where male and female give themselves completely, freely, lovingly to each other. It is this in which man is primarily made in God's image. That is, God's image and likeness in male and female is expressed firstly in the communion of persons of Original Unity, then through the Original Solitude in a secondary way.

If we are to be in the image and likeness of God, we must express God's Trinitarian image. This is done only in the most fullest sense as we can do as human beings through the communion of persons. Man must have a subject to love and share in God's creative act. This is why God says that "it is not good for man to be alone". Thus God creates woman so that male and female can no longer be alone. Man does not realize fully that he is made in God's image and likeness until the Original Unity between male and female comes about. It is through this that man realizes fully his being made in the image and likeness of God.

Through all this, JP II brings into official magisterial teaching the idea that it is through the communion of persons that man is made in God's image and likeness. And it is through this core understanding of how the body reveals the mystery of God that we can discuss a Theology of the Body. We see now how the body reveals God's image and likeness, both on its own and through the communion of persons. The body reveals the communion that man and woman are called to, both with each other as well as a foreshadow of that communion that we are all called to with God.

This idea of the communion of persons as an icon of the Trinity can be expanded a bit further as well. Just as God is one God in three Divine Persons, this can be imaged into the marriage. God the Father and God the Son give and receive to each other in an eternal communion of Love, and this Love is the Holy Spirit. The husband and wife also give themselves to each other as well, that is, through the nuptial embrace, the love that each one has for the other is expressed in the most personal and intimate way. Similarly as God's love is overflowing to the point that He creates all that He does, so too is this imaged through marriage. The love a husband and a wife have for each other also is an overflowing love to the point that a new life is created, to the point that a child comes out of this loving act. Just as the world is the proof of God's love for us, so too is the child a proof of the love a husband and wife have for each other. There is a trace of God in everything He has created.

Furthermore, the incarnate communion, that is, the communion of persons between man and woman, is a foreshadowing between the communion that Christ has with His Church. It is a loving intimate relationship to the point that they become "one flesh". This is why the Church is called "The Bride of Christ" and "Christ's Mystical Body". Both show the one flesh union, both are united to each other. As Christopher West says "This is why God created us as sexual beings-to prepare us as an eternal Bride of Chist". It is important too that this idea of a gift is inharent in both as well, just as a husband gives himself over to his wife as a gift, so too does Christ give Himself over to the Church.


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