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The Body Isn't Evil

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By Marc Massery (Jan 12, 2018)
Sunday, Jan. 14 — Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Samuel 3:3b-10, 19
• Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20
• John 1:35-42

Ancient Greek philosophers viewed the spirit as noble but the body as evil.

In the readings for the 1st Sunday in ordinary time, we learn the Catholic view of the body.

In the reading from 1 Corinthians, St. Paul teaches: "The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor 6:19). Contrary to what the ancient Greeks believed, our bodies are not bad in themselves. In fact, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can "glorify God in [our bodies]" (1 Cor 6:20).

As Paul says, "The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord" (1 Cor 6:13).

Our bodies do not make us sin — we have a choice. The problem is, sin can feel great for a short time. But when we allow our sinful impulses to run rampant, eventually we will become unhappy and experience why the ancient Greeks believed the body was bad.

We can solve the immorality problem by dedicating ourselves, body, soul, intellect, and will, to Christ. Saint Paul says, "[Y]ou are not your own" (1 Cor 6:19). When we dedicate ourselves to Christ, the Holy Spirit sanctifies us and He will "raise us by his power" in our bodies on the last day.

In order to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, we must learn to recognize immorality in our lives. The Gospel reading provides us with the prescription for living a life completely transformed by Christ.

In the Gospel reading, the future Apostles Andrew and John see Christ, "the Lamb of God" (Jn 1:36) walking by, and they follow Him. Jesus turns around and asks them the essential question, "What are you looking for?" (Jn 1:38).

We would do well to ask ourselves this question often. Am I living my life for money, fame, or power? Or are my actions aimed at pursuing what is true, good, and beautiful — the love of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit?

As disciples of John the Baptist, Andrew and John the Evangelist had been searching for goodness. But they do not find fulfillment until they encounter Christ.

As soon as they see Him, they respond like they had just found the object of their greatest desires. Excited, they do not even answer Christ's question. They ask hastily, "[W]here are you staying?" (Jn 1:38). Not wasting a moment, they want to spend time with Christ as soon as possible and develop an intimate friendship with Him.

In fact, John is so touched by this first encounter with Christ that he remembers the very hour it happened, "about four in the afternoon" (Jn 1:39). Andrew is so excited that he goes to find his brother, Simon, so that he, too, could meet Christ. He tells Him, "We have found the Messiah" (Jn 1:41).

Jesus sees in them not what they had been in their old lives, but what they could be transformed into by His grace. Upon meeting Andrew's brother, Simon, Christ wastes no time in transforming his life. Christ gives him a new name, Peter, or "rock," to signify what he would eventually become: the leader of the apostles.

Transformed by the power of grace, these men begin to "glorify God in [their bodies]" (1 Cor 6:20), their lives transformed forever.

Like the apostles, we must become servants of the Lord. If we do not become the Lord's servants, we will end up serving some other inordinate desire. We must respond to Christ, therefore, as Samuel does in the first reading, saying to Him "Speak, for your servant is listening."

In order to discern the goodness of our actions, we must seek Christ — we must place ourselves in His presence and open up our hearts to hear His voice. When we place ourselves before the Lord — in prayer, at Mass, in Adoration, or reading Scripture — we stay close to Him, and His Holy Spirit will dwell in our bodies.

Then we can cry out as the psalmist says, "[God] is my delight, and your law is within my heart" (Ps 40:9).

Readings for this weekend

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