“…what we touched with our hands…”
(1 John 1:2).
By chance we found ourselves with tickets for Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun), a Canadian-based troupe that combines traditional circus and street entertainment to create an astonishing display of agility and beauty by the human body. The phrase “defying the laws of physics” comes to mind, but only until we realize that these performers are in fact obeying those laws with feats requiring exquisite balance and coordination as bodies in motion, almost in flight, but within the precise limits of the laws of nature. One signature performance is a couple who exhibit the image of perfect balance between male and female in a single form, what Genesis saw in Adam and Eve before they were riven by sin.
John the Evangelist, whose feast we celebrate today, was the mystic who grasped most fully the Incarnation, the Word made flesh. From his first words in the New Testament, “In the beginning was the Word …” to the last lines of Revelations describing the marriage of the Church and the Lamb, this "Beloved Disciple" tried to convey to us the mystery of God’s Body. By extending eternity into time and divinity into humanity, God became intimate within creation and, in Jesus, within human flesh. In his first letter, John cannot express enough that in Jesus they saw and heard and touched Life itself. That encounter, initiated by God, sent grace — divine nature – flooding into human nature, perfecting its original potential to become one with God, first offered to Adam and Eve, but postponed in its fullness until it could be freely chosen within history. Progress toward that acceptance has been agonizingly slow despite the guidance of the Law and the Prophets, but the gift has never been withdrawn and was revealed in the person of Jesus.
The theology pales before the reality. What the mind cannot perceive the heart knows. This is our destiny, to touch and be touched by God in our very bodies. It is built into human nature to know God this way, as children do in their first innocence. What art reveals virtue reclaims as we focus our hearts homeward. This is why we thrill to see perfect bodies, what God intended for each one of us and all of us together. And, thanks be to God, love knows the way.