Spring 1997

The Chastity of Jesus and the “Refusal to Grasp”

Jean-Pierre Batut

"A harpagmos is an object unduly possessed, the fruit of a theft, a plunder. . . . From this perspective, every sin is, in essence, a sin against chastity."

The reason we are not in a position to speak about the chastity of Christ is that we cannot do so in an entirely chaste manner. We would like to understand it, but we would also like things to stand for him as they do for us, even if we do not want to admit it ourselves. For this reason, the Virgin alone truly understands her Son. The Church alone, in the manner in which she shows Christ to us and gives him to us, sets us on the path of conversion, on which, as a matter of course, we begin to understand chastity and to live it.

When St. Thomas meditates on the episode of the temptations in the desert (Summa Theologica, III, q.41), he begins by reminding us that the temptation Christ underwent is lived, like all of the mysteries, "for us men and for our salvation." As he says in citing St. Gregory, Jesus had to "conquer our temptations through his own, as he triumped over our death through his own."


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