As human creatures, we are both flesh and spirit. God’s original design was that our body and soul would be integrated. In other words, to be fully human means having the body serving the good of the soul, and vice versa.
Yet, we have lost the harmony of our carnal and spiritual affections through Original Sin. We know how our flesh is so often set against the spirit through certain actions — such as violence, lustful deeds, and self-harm — just to name a few.
In these actions, we depart from our nature as physical-and-spiritual beings; we behave instead as if we were physical-or-spiritual beings. We experience a kind of death called sin, since death is the separation of body and soul. Hence, St Paul notes:
The wages for sin is death. Rm 6:23
Amidst this broken interior relationship between flesh and spirit, the Word was made Flesh. Jesus came to show us the way of right relationship between flesh and spirit. This was best exemplified by His Sacrifice on the Cross, when He united the will of His spirit with the will of His flesh to suffer for our salvation. In His own body, Jesus resolved that interior discord between flesh and spirit, which we have inherited from our first parents.
By God’s grace, this mystery is more than a matter of mere history. In this present age, our Lord Jesus offers us a fitting remedy through which we share in His victory on the Cross, where flesh and spirit are reconciled. This remedy is His very Self — body and blood, soul and divinity — in the Holy Eucharist.
The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. Jn 6:51
Redeeming our flesh by His own
Because carnal problems require carnal solutions. By uniting His Flesh to our flesh, Christ our God intends to restore in each of us that broken interior relationship between body and soul.
This sets right our wayward carnal affections. We turn to sexual sin, violence, and self harm in hope of satisfying the urges of our flesh. Yet, these quick fixes often leave us feeling empty, and so we try harder at them. As this cycle of pleasure and withdrawal continues and intensifies, we become entrapped in a carnal addiction.
Yet, in all of these carnal sins and addictions, it is the Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord that we seek. Because each of us was created to live in relation with God in Christ Jesus, the deepest desire of our flesh is in fact Holy Communion. It is only the Flesh of Christ that can truly satisfy our own flesh.
O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water. Ps 63:2
Jesus’ offer of His own Flesh and Blood also reminds us that He desires us in our flesh. In spite of how we may resent our physique and appearance, even as we abuse our own flesh to grasp at that elusive image, Jesus still says, “I desire you in your flesh.” He desires you as a splendid tabernacle for His own dwelling, and affirms this truth each time He makes Holy Communion with you.
Christ our God took on human flesh some 20 centuries ago, and through the Eucharist He avails Himself to us in this present day. This is proof that He did not want to redeem our fallen nature from afar. Rather, He desires to restore each of us from within, in the most intimate way — through Holy Communion. Because of our union with Him in Flesh and Spirit, we too can live as integrated beings of flesh and spirit.
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.
– Order of Mass, at The Communion Rite
Written by Louis of VITA Scribes.