THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost
10 November 2019
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We are stamped with the image and likeness of God as a coin is with the image and likeness of a king. This image and likeness are both spiritual and physical. Our physical bodies resemble the very Body of Jesus Christ. God chose to become one with us. Of all of His creation, we are the ones that He established this intimate relationship with. Our flesh and bones are arranged in the same manner and present themselves in the same way as the Body of Jesus.
There is much more than a mere similarity of our bodies with The Body of Jesus. There is an intimate union of our bodies with His in the Holy Eucharist. God enters into our bodies to make us One with Him. This physical dignity of ours is too often overlooked. We seek worldly dignity and prestige. The world may regard the bodies of the rich and powerful as impressive or dignified, but God does not regard this worldly distinction between the rich and the poor. The bodies of the poor are just as worthy of respect and dignity as are the bodies of the rich. The bodies of the rich are just as susceptible to pain, sickness, death, and decay as are the bodies of the poor. Likewise, the bodies of the poor are just as worthy as the rich to be honored and respected.
We should strive to avoid despising our corruptible bodies, just as we should avoid making gods or idols of our flesh. The dignity of our bodies is not dependent upon strength, size, youth, or worldly beauty. All of these things fade away if we live long enough and still, our bodies bear the image of God and are therefore deserving of respect and honor.
We may even consider that the weak, the crippled and the sick bodies which are less than perfect in the eyes of the world bear the closest resemblance to the Body of Jesus. In their suffering, they bear the cross of this life as Jesus bore His Cross. Each time we see those who are suffering continue on we should be reminded of Jesus rising and continuing every time He fell on the way to Calvary.
When we see the poverty of our fellow men we should see that they more closely resemble Jesus Who was born in a stable. Far from despising the poor, we should honor the image of Jesus' life in them. If the poor cooperate with this grace of poverty they have been promised the Kingdom of Heaven.
We should strive every day to see the physical image of God in ourselves and others and to treat ourselves and others with proper dignity and respect. Then we should look into our hearts and souls to see if we can find a resemblance to Jesus there. Our physical resemblance is ours as a gift, but the spiritual resemblance is a choice we are to make. The spiritual image of Jesus is made present in our souls when we truly love. True love comes forth from our souls and draws all of its faculties (memory, intellect, and will) into one single purpose or action. When we think of God, we should see our loving Father, our loving Brother (the Son of God), and Holy Ghost the very Spirit of Love.
True love welcomes God into our hearts and souls. We not only bear the image of God in our souls but then God actually resides there. The soul that loves is a soul that not only has the image of God stamped upon it, but has God Himself living there. We are all called to be able to say with St. Paul, that it is no longer I but, Jesus Christ living within me.
This love is first directed to God, then to ourselves and all our fellow men. In loving ourselves and others, we should strive to love our souls first and then our bodies. The dignity or potential dignity of our souls bearing the image of God is the primary object of true love. We must labor first for the establishment of the Kingdom of God in the hearts and minds of souls then, we should strive to see the image of God in the very flesh and blood that He has also given us.
We should strive to dress our bodies with honor, dignity, and respect humbly and modestly. We do not need riches, jewels or finery. With the simplest of material things, even in extreme poverty, we can honor the image of God in our bodies as Jesus and Mary did when they were here on this earth. The riches, jewels, and finery of this world belong to this world they bear the image of this world. These we should render to Caesar (the world) because they are Caesar's (the world's). Our bodies, however, were made in the Image and Likeness of God and belong to God and we should love, honor and respect them as such. We should nurture, clothe, and shelter these bodies of ours and others with all honor and respect as we would the very Body of Jesus.
In our souls, we must make a deliberate choice to impress the Image of God. We must choose to love if we wish to bear His Image in our souls. This is the more important image, but it is not made without our bodies. The image of Love in our souls manifests itself in the love of God as well as in the love of ourselves and our neighbors. Let, us then always remember to render (through true love) to God that which is God's our bodies and souls.
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