10th General Audience, November 21, 1979
1. The function of sex, of being male or female, which is in some ways constitutive of the person, man with all his spiritual solitude, uniqueness and unrepeatability proper to the person, is constitutive of the body as he or she.
The Unity of Becoming “One Flesh”
2. The unity of Gen. 2:24 “the two will be one flesh” refers to the unity that is expressed and fulfilled in the conjugal act, the sexual union between man and woman. The union of male and female, by becoming one flesh, places the whole of their humanity under the blessing of fruitfulness.
The context does not allow us to stop at the surface of human sexuality; we cannot treat the body and sex outside this full dimension of man and woman and the “communion of persons”
The “one flesh” imposes on us from the “beginning” an obligation to see the fullness and depth proper to this unity, the unity that man and woman must constitute in the light of the revelation of the body.
In the sexual union of man and woman where the two become one flesh, the mystery of creation is rediscovered, “flesh from my flesh and bone from my bones” They recognise each other reciprocally, and to call each other by name, as they did the first time. This means also reliving the original virginal value of man.
Sex is more than the power of human bodiliness that acts by human instinct.
3. However, this unity to become one flesh has from the beginning a character that derives from choice. Leaving his father and mother to unite with his wife is by choice, while belonging to the father and mother is by generation.
The conjugal union refers to the first man and the first woman, but also the man’s earthly future, which is why Christ can refer to the text equally relevant in his own age.
They are formed in the image of God and they also form an authentic communion of persons, first man and woman constitute a beginning and model for all men so that whenever they unite with each other intimately that they become “one flesh”
But the two becoming “one flesh,” a conjugal covenant, is based only on a reciprocal choice.
Taken from the man as “flesh from his flesh” the woman consequently becomes as “wife” and through her motherhood, mother of the living Gen. 3:20 -- her motherhood also has her proper origin in him. Procreation has its root in creation.
11th General Audience, December 12, 1979
1. Now both were naked, the man and his wife, but they did not feel shame. Gen: 2:25.
2. To original solitude, and original union, we add a third, original nakedness.
3. The first human beings, man and woman, “were naked” but did not feel shame, suggests the reciprocal experience of the body, that is, man’s experience of femininity, and the woman’s experience of masculinity.
4. Christ, by returning to the “beginning” in addressing the Pharisees, establishes indirectly the continuity from historical sinfulness to original innocence.
Only a few verses later that the author of Genesis, writes, Then, the eyes of both were opened, and they realised that they were naked; they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Gen. 3:7.
“Then,” refers to a new situation, one where, the man and woman failed the test of obedience. This new situation brings a new experience of the body. “Shame” is not only one of man’s original experiences, but a boundary experience.
5. The shame felt in Gen. 3:7 is more than what they saw. This is not a passage from not knowing to knowing, but a radical change in the meaning of original nakedness. This consciousness is the result of eating from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Gen. 3:11, Yahweh asks, who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
This consciousness of nakedness directly concerns the experience of one’s own body before the Creator and the creatures.
Gen. 3:10, I heard the sound of your step in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
12th General Audience, December 19, 1979
1. Pope John-Paul asks, “what is shame” and how can we account for its absence in the state of “original innocence?
Shame, especially sexual shame, the person experiences “fear” in front of a second “I”, which is fear of one’s own “I.” The human being manifests instinctively the need for affirmation and acceptance of this “I” and its proper value. Shame has a fundamental formation for ethos between people who live together, especially man and woman.
2. When Gen. 2:25 says “they were naked but did not feel shame,” this is not a lack of or insufficient development of shame -- but a true non-presence of shame.
3. Nakedness corresponds to the fullness of consciousness of meaning of the body that comes from the senses. Original innocence is the knowledge of the exterior experience of the meaning of the body before any complications.
5. Through its visibility, the body manifests man, and in manifesting him, acts as an intermediary that allows man and woman, from the beginning to communicate with each other willed for them in particular by the Creator.
The exterior perception expressed in physical nakedness corresponds to “interior” fullness of the vision of man in God -- according to the image of God.
Fr. David Bellusci, O.P.
List of Titles
Lesson 1: What is meant by "Beginning"?