Salvation and Embodiment – an Excerpt from The Priority of Christ

The following is an excerpt from The Priority of Christ, by Bishop Robert Barron.

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The dense physicality of the risen Jesus (sarka kai oseta, flesh and bones) indicates that the whole drama of salvation has to do with real, embodied human beings.

There is nothing in authentic Christianity of the Platonic- Gnostic myth of descending and reascending souls, of the imprisonment of spirit in matter and subsequent escape. When this form appeared in Origen’s speculations, it was quickly appreciated as repugnant to the intuitions of orthodoxy.

Cover ArtThe God described in Genesis made all things good, including matter, and therefore salvation affects the human being at all levels. Whatever resurrection life means (and it remains certainly mysterious and ambiguous throughout the New Testament), it does not mean the career of a disembodied soul. Rather, it must have something to do with the elevation of the entire person and the intensification of her physical, psychological, and spiritual powers.

Though we do not know from the text itself whether the disciples responded to Jesus’s invitation to touch him, the fact that he could be touched has important ecclesiological implications. Since the Word became flesh, it is with and in our flesh that we contact him.

The objective physicality of the risen Lord grounds, therefore, the sacramental imagination of the church, the conviction that we find God’s presence unabashedly in things such as water, oil, bread, relics, vestments, saints, candles, and pictures, and not by fleeing to a realm of sheer interiority or sheer transcendence. The touch of the disciples signals the electrical energy of the coinherence of Jesus and his church.

©2016 by Robert Barron. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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