|SUNDAY HOMILIES FOR YEAR B|
|By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp|
|Homily for 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - on the Epistle|
Are All Things Really Lawful?
|1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19||1 Corinthians 6:12-20||John 1:35-42|
The story is told of a Swedish citizen by name Olav Olavson who, in 1910, sold his body to an institute of medical research because he fell on hard times. A few years later, he inherited a large fortune, and so wanted to buy himself back. But the medical school refused to sell back to him the rights to his own body. They went to court and the medical school won. Mr Olavson had lost ownership of his own body. In addition he was ordered to pay a fine to the medical school because he had had two of his teeth pulled without the permission of the medical school who owned his body. This is an example of a situation where a man does not own his own body. Paul, in today's second reading from his First Letter to the Corinthians teaches that, as Christians, we are only caretakers, not landlords of our own bodies.
From the beginning of the Christian faith, there has been a tendency for some Christians to misunderstand the teachings of Paul. Already in New Testament times we are warned of certain Christians who take the words of St Paul as a pretext for lawlessness.
The Corinthians to whom Paul addresses today's 2nd reading are an example of such believers who are carried away into error by taking the teachings of Paul too far. Paul taught the freedom of the children of God, but the Corinthians mistook it for lawlessness and licentiousness.
It is easy for us to misunderstand today's second reading. We misunderstanding it when we take the entire passage to be the direct words and teachings of St Paul. As a matter of fact, the passage is a mixture of popular Corinthian sayings, which are mistaken, and Paul's words in which Paul disagrees with those popular ideas and tries to correct them. The beginning part of the passage is actually an imaginary dialogue, a diatribe, between Paul and an Corinthian. It goes like this:
Corinthian: "All things are lawful for me."
What is happening is that the Corinthians have taken the teachings of Paul on the freedom of the Christian from Jewish observances and blown it out of proportion, taking it to mean that for believers right and wrong no longer exist. Sin no longer exists. We can eat, drink, smoke or inject into our bodies whatever we like. After all, our bodies are our own, right? Instead of becoming examples of moderation and self-control, these misguided believers became known for self-indulgence and loose living. Paul writes to bring them back to the path of moderation and order.
Paul argues that even if it is true that Jewish Law is no longer binding, yet not everything is helpful to us in our relationship with God and with our neighbour. Paul illustrates with gluttony, drunkenness, and fornication which he sees as a defilement of our bodies. This is so because "your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own. 20 For you were bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
A proper understanding of Pau's moral teaching on what we may or may not do with our bodies begins with the realization that we are not the owners of our bodies. Christ has bought our bodies by giving up his own body in our place. The Holy Spirit now lives in our bodies as in a temple. God owns us. We are only caretakers of our bodies and will give an account to God for everything we do in the body. Today, let us make our own what Paul says elsewhere about himself: "it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20)."
Click here to read or share your ideas on this homily on our Weblog
Click here to send me your comments and suggestions
Click here to recommend this website to a friend