Question 41



We know that God has a plan for every important human affair, such as marriage, spousal love and family. We can know that plan. St. John teaches us: “We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 Jn 5:20). 

If we want to understand what it means to be a human being, to have a correct anthropology, then we need to look at the best model, or archetype, of our humanity. Gaudium et Spes 21:1 explains: “Christ, the new Adam, in the very revelation of the Father and of his love, fully reveals humanity to itself and brings to light its high calling.” God designed the human race, beginning with our first parents Adam and Eve. Then the totally unexpected happened. At the appropriate time in history, the Son of God came into our world as one of us. He reveals to us the inexhaustible mystery of God the Father, who is love and truth. And Jesus reveals to us our own dignity, the full richness of our humanity, what we are capable of becoming as bodied-persons, fashioned in the image and likeness of God. He reveals to us that our exalted destiny is to enter into God’s very own interior communion of love and life. 

There is another statement from Gaudium et Spes which explains a Christian anthropology, made famous by Pope John Paul II’s constant reference to it. “There is a certain similarity between the union existing among the divine persons and the union of God’s children in truth and love. It follows, then, that if human beings are the only creatures on earth that God has wanted for their own sake, then they can fully discover their true selves only in sincere self-giving” (GS 24:2). 

The bishops at Vatican II are teaching us that there are strong parallels, or similarities, between the union of the Divine Persons in truth and love, and the union of God’s children in truth and love. God is a communion of persons, and we are a communion of persons. Of all the things God created in the material universe, the most important, and of greatest value, are persons. Love was the motive that prompted God to create a material universe out of nothing. He wanted to offer His love and life to other persons, who are capable of understanding God’s goodness and love, and then are able to freely respond to that love in kind by returning it. 

In his Theology of the Body, Pope John Paul II probes more deeply into God’s plan for us, into a true Christian anthropology. He asserts that at the heart of God’s identity is reciprocal love. Each divine person (Father, Son and Spirit) completely and unreservingly makes the total gift of self to the others. The others accept this self-offering completely, and then respond to that great gift in kind, by making the total gift of themselves. When St. John says that God is love, this is what he is talking about. This is also the meaning behind the pope’s motto: Totus Tuus. 

Where do we find this “to fully discover their true selves only in sincere self-giving” most commonly in human events? We find it in marriage, between spouses. God’s inner life of interpersonal communion of love and life is the model (archetype) of the love of a husband and wife. Conversely, if we understand something of the beauty and richness of spousal love, then we have a clear insight into the inner life of God. “Two in one flesh” and a communion of persons have much in common. 

The model for all marriages is God’s love for us as His people, and Christ’s love for His bride, the Church. God is totally committed to His people and to His bride. He will never give up on her. He will always be giving more, and revealing more of Himself to her. Spousal love then has real meaning, shape and content. It is a precious human treasure that we are 1) to understand as God designed it, and 2) then we are to choose to grow in our ability to express it in our lives. 

If we want to know what God’s plan is for us as human beings, as bodied-persons, and a true anthropology, then we must meditate upon how He has designed us, and what His exalted destiny is for us, if we will only respond to His great love. 

Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB