We value very greatly our God-given rights. Some of these were enumerated beautifully in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. We value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Jesus was – is – truly man, as well as truly God, so I am sure he valued these as well.
He valued us more.
That is what love does. It values others. It gives. God is love (1 Jn 4:8) and He gives. Jesus said “This is my body” at the first Mass and gave us Himself. He said it, too, with His actions on the way to Calvary. “This is my body, and I give it to you.”
Christ gave His body to suffering for us. He gave up His human rights to life, exchanging it for death. He gave up liberty, exchanging it for a Roman guard. He gave up the pursuit of (earthly) happiness, exchanging it for the pursuit of the cross, for the humiliation of His Passion.
Yes, we value these rights – and we should. They are valuable. They are great gifts of God. We are called, though, to value others as well. We are called to love others as ourselves – and that must include, then, those same rights and the same God-given dignity in them. We are called to this whatever our vocation.
The priest, as he receives the sacrament of his vocation, prostrates himself before the altar. “This is my body,” he says in laying his body down. This is my body. My life, I give to God; my liberty, to obedience and trust in His will; my pursuit of happiness to trust in the joy of God’s plan for my life.”
The husband or wife, in consummating the sacrament of marriage, says in action (and perhaps in words) “this is my body”. This is my body, given to you. My life, I give to you, to share until death. It is yours – it should be yours – to the last measure. My liberty I give to the needs of my family. I cannot come and go as I wish, but I must consider them at all times. My pursuit of happiness I give to the ongoing pursuit of my spouse – to knowing and loving my spouse – and to trust in the joy of God’s plan for my life.
The mother, as she subcreates with God and with her husband, says to the baby, “this is my body”. This is my body, shared with you. My life, I give to you – physically, until you are able to live on your own; emotionally, until death and beyond. My liberty, I give to raising you well and with great love. My pursuit of happiness I give to trust in the great happiness of knowing you and trust in the joy of God’s plan for my life.
What obvious demonic mockeries are those words when they’re used to deny all love but self-love.
“This is my body,” says the young man that puts anything inside it that he wishes, without regard to his health or future. “This is my body!” shouts the woman fighting for the “right” to kill her unborn child. “This is my body” say the porn stars as they commodify themselves, becoming objects to rent or download and then toss away.
These words are sacred. They are the outward expression of the greatest gift we can give – ourselves. Our bodies. Our lives (John 15:13). They are the divine words that re-present the sacrifice of Christ and give us His Body and Blood to eat. They are the sign of a great and terrible gift, given to each of us at our conception, that we use to our temporary happiness or give up to our eternal joy.
Copyright 2014, Joe Wetterling