Stephen D’Evelyn: Rethinking the Whole

It’s cold and wet. It’s half-term so children are underfoot. It’s easy to feel worn down. When you’re disabled or in pain or both, it can be all the more easy to feel not up to the job. Being disabled can feel like being unable. Impairments can easily feel like straightforward deficiencies.
I was struck this weekend by Jesus’ admonition to his followers about being wholehearted. He expresses this in stark language doubtless in the traditions of Hebrew rhetoric: If one of your eyes proves the source of wandering, it is better that you throw away your eye than that your whole body go to Hell.
On the face of it, this is a stark call to doing the right thing. And doing the right thing really does matter. Yet the image of having just one eye left made me see impairment in a new way.

Our identity is only really found in the ultimates of all reality–this life and whatever comes next. And the body matters. It does not matter in the sense of whether all its parts function fully on accordance with abstract norms. It matters in itself. it persists. We may say this is merely a quaint relic of pre-modern understanding. But to me it is a much fuller view of reality, one filled with significance at a time when we seem constantly to be revising what we know about the universe, overflowing with relevance at a time when questions of identity — sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, nationality, religious grouping–dominate politics of nation, transnational corporation, and Church.

What counts most is being actively open to divine otherness by loving wholeheartedly. We are bodies full of spirit called to love and celebrate the generosity of diversity and the inexhaustible love giving rise to it all.


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