As my central proof I would offer the mystery of love, which, in keeping with its paradoxical nature, makes a man rooted while uprooting him. On the one hand, Aristotle is an absolutely unbending realist: whatever I can see, hear, touch, taste, smell, feel, or otherwise perceive, is The Real; compared to these, concepts, memories, and imaginings are Less Real. On the other hand, Aristotle is an uncompromising spiritualist: God, the unseen, untouched, inaccessible, imperceptible object of pure thought is The Real, and the entire universe of bodies undergoing alteration, substantial change, and local motion is Less Real, emanating from Him who is the First Principle, striving upwards towards Him who is the Last End. Form and matter, the two great principles of all composites, are themselves unseen, untouched, and the rest. We surmise their necessary presence, hidden though they are behind the veil of common experience.
The Here and the Now is our daily bread, our human sacrament. What is Everywhere and Always is difficult to penetrate, hard to recognise, noble beyond all words, wise beyond all thoughts, consoling to the immortal man. The concrete physical presence of the beloved is the focus, the goal, the fulfillment of the Here and Now, but it is only the beginning of the Real Presence, the spiritual omnipresence of the beloved, by which the Here and the Now is elevated, enlarged, suffused with intimations of eternity and ubiquity that not even (what mortals call) absence can forestall or weaken.
Touch is the only sense that puts us, as we say, “in touch with” reality, touch tells us that things are there, not just in the mind. Touch is closer to matter, but also closer to the truth of material things, which have their being in matter; sight is closer to form. Touch is the sense of certainty. Whatever is fundamental to the sense of touch is fundamental to things themselves. This is our immediate and unshakeable perception of the world that lies before us, the world we “grasp.”
In the mystery of the Incarnation, God takes delight in responding to this foundation of sanity and realism. The being of the Word is not just to be divine, spiritual, holy, but to be man, and therefore to be bodily, embodied, tangible. Christ tells the doubting Thomas to touch him, He tells Mary Magdalen not to touch him. St. John later writes: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us…” (1 Jn 1:1–2)
In our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who is Always and Everywhere, who dwells in Light inaccessible, infinitely beyond us evanescent and confined mortals, deigns to become the Here and Now in flesh and blood, a body we can touch and hold on to for certain, a soul we can intimately know and love. Praised be this man, our God and Lord Jesus Christ, now and forever! “He is the head of the body, the Church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may hold the primacy.”
I make my own the wonderfully incarnational prayer of St. Gertrude the Great: “May my heart and my soul, with all the substance of my flesh, all my senses, and all the powers of my body and my mind, with all creatures, praise Thee and give Thee thanks, O sweet Lord, faithful lover of mankind, for Thy infinite mercy”!