Saturday, January 14, 2012

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Living God?

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. January 15th, 2012

“Behold the Lamb of God.” With these words, John the Baptist announces the coming of Jesus, as he begins his public ministry, and begins to call disciples to Himself. I want to stop and reflect on these words- Lamb of God. We have just celebrated the mystery of the coming of the Lamb of God, Jesus. Jesus, the invisible God, second person of the Blessed Trinity comes into the world in the flesh, in a human body. And, it is through his Body that He will offer himself to His heavenly Father, as the true Lamb of Sacrifice for the salvation of mankind. God has become incarnate, and everything, everything has changed.

It is important to remember that the Incarnation of Jesus did not end with the death of Jesus. Jesus resurrected and He did so in the flesh. His resurrection was a bodily resurrection, a physical resurrection--“touch me Thomas, see I am not a ghost!” This is why Jesus came to earth as a little baby in Bethlehem, He came so that He could die in His body, in order that He would be able to give us this body to save us. The resurrection makes it possible for Jesus to give us His Body. This is the body that the priest holds up and proclaims, Behold this is the Lamb of God before we receive Him. Jesus is still in a body and it is this sacred body of Jesus that will save us, if we adore It.

It is also through the incarnation, God coming in the flesh, that Jesus reveals to us who we are. We too are called to live out our lives in holiness in the flesh—in a body, just as Jesus did. In fact, because of Jesus, our bodies can now actually become real temples for the living and true God to dwell in. As St. Paul says to us today, our bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit- we are in Baptism, reborn and we become living temples of the living God. This image is not just a spiritual one- we are reunited to the Father and become children of God, literally this means to have the Life of God alive in our souls. This has huge consequences for our bodies. We are indeed true sons and daughters of God- this is truly who we are. And so as sons and daughters of God we are to live our lives in a way which shows forth this great truth to all around us.

At the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead, our souls will be reunited with our bodies. We will be judged for the acts we did, both bad and good in and through our bodies and depending on the outcome of that judgment we will spend eternity in our bodies in one of two places, either in eternal bliss of heaven or eternal misery of hell. So St. Paul says, because our bodies are holy, temples of the Holy Spirit, our bodies are not to be instruments of sins-our bodies are not for fornication, but instruments whereby God uses us for holiness, for His glory.

This brings us three important considerations all having to do with the body as temple of the Holy Spirit. And how a failure to understand the holiness of the body leads to all sorts of desecrations and one could even de-sacrilization of the body. First, the subject of married love, second how do we take care of the building of the temple and thirdly, how do we treat the body after death.

In the sacrament of marriage our physical bodies reach their finality, meaning what they were designed for, when they are united to another body of the opposite sex. When they are used properly our bodies will be fruitful, and the fruit will be children who are one of the greatest gifts of God and who are destined to become sons and daughters of God as well. Our culture degrades the body, especially in this area, in the area of sexual morality.

If we use our bodies improperly and not according to the design of God and His holy will, we degrade the living temple of our bodies and force the Holy Spirit out of the temple. Think of all of the ways our modern world desecrates the body. Our culture is one of sexual excess. The so called sexual revolution is no more than an excuse for sexual sin. It starts in simple ways- like dressing in an immodest, seductive manner. By the way, the person who dresses in such a manner, draws upon their soul, all the sins that lead others to impure thoughts or actions. Because they lead others into sin by the way they dress, they share in these sins. And so by merely walking down the street or down the communion line, one can draw multiple and very serious sins upon one’s own soul.

This degrading of the body then progresses to fornication, that is using our sexual powers outside of marriage, such as in living together; adultery, in which ones fails to love ones spouse as ones loves own body, artificial birth control which shuts of the fruitfulness of life and refuses to be open to this greatest of God’s gifts. Abortion, which destroy the fruit of the union between two bodies, which is another body of a human person destined to be born in order to adore and glorify the Creator of life. We could go on and on, but you get the picture. Jesus desires us to use our bodies for His glory- instruments of his love and mercy.

Next, the second point, how we dress our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, holy and sacred objects were always, always, veiled. The veil reminded the view that that which lies behind or under the veil was sacred, only and belonged to God. And because it was holy it could not be looked upon with ordinary eyes and a casual glance. IN other words, it could not be look upon as ordinary or secular but as something holy and sacred to the Lord God. The holies of holies containing the Ark of the Covenant was hidden always behind a veil and no one could look behind the veil except one appointed by God,that is, the priest.

Later in the New Testament, the chalice and paten which would hold the Body and blood of Christ would be veiled until the appropriate time during Holy Mass. And the human body itself was veiled, by clothing because it was holy and Sacred. This by the way is the where the ideal of veiling woman came from. The woman’s body was holy and sacred and one was not to look upon it with eyes of lust and filth. Only the husband who body belongs to the woman because he consecrated himself by a sacred oath to her and she to Him, only he could remove the veil and see the sacredness and beauty behind.

Because our modern society as too often removed the veil outside the marital bond the body as become something dirty and filthy. Why is there the modern attempt to piece, tattoo and surgical altar the body? Is not this a sign that body is now hated so much that it is mutilated and changed, in order to try to make it more sexually desirable.

Let’s move to the third point, the end of life. Never before have we seen the sacredness of the body more disregarded at death than in our day. The Church and society informed and formed by the Church and her teachings, has always in the past seen to it that the human body received a proper burial. In fact, one of the corporal works of mercy is to bury the dead. This practice presupposed a belief in the sacredness of the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and as well, a belief in the bodily resurrection of the dead on the day of Judgment. By the way, the masons attack this bodily resurrection of the dead and so tried to convince others, especially Catholics to have their bodies cremated at death to show their denial of the churches teaching that the body would be resurrected. If the body was cremated, so they thought, it couldn’t be resurrected, this why the Church banned cremation for a while.

While Today the Church reluctantly allows cremation, it will not allow it if the person is being cremated because he doesn’t believe in the resurrection of the body. It must be said that Church certainly doesn’t prefer cremation; it would rather have the body intact at burial and for sure the body present and intact at the funeral Mass. The problem with cremation is that because of the denial of the Body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, families are not burying the body. They are dumping the cremated body at sea, keeping it on their fire place mantel, and even making it into jewelry. This is a denial of the sacredness of the body. The cremated body must be treated as a former temple of the Holy Spirit and so the body in cremated form needs to be buried.

In the end we are not just souls without bodies and we are not souls held captive in the body. We are body and soul, and even more because of our Baptism our bodies are now temples of the Holy Spirit, holy and sacred instruments. We are to adore our God not only in Soul but in our body as well. We need to change our attitudes and behaviors to reflect the reality to which we have been baptized into- we are all uniquely children of God. With this confidence, we can then use our bodies to glorify God. This includes using our body in the worship and adoration of God at Holy Mass.

We use our bodies to genuflect, kneel and bow in order to show our interior desire to adore God. This use of our body should also be reflected in how we dress our bodies; we should dress modesty, always wearing our Sunday best. But we are also to adore God in our bodies outside of Mass by living upright, moral and holy lives by not sinning in the body. At Mass our bodies are united with Jesus in a holy marriage when we receive His Sacred Body in holy Communion, so our bodies must be pure like our souls in order to receive Him worthily.

In a few moments, we will begin the Eucharistic prayer. In the communion rite I will elevate the body and Christ and say, “This is the Lamb of God. When we receive this body of Christ- it is truly the flesh and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, we can be transformed. The Eucharist, the body of Christ will give us the power we need to live lives of purity and holiness in the body. By receiving Jesus, He will transform us into members of his own sacred body, if we let Him. May we be open to the graces we need to live out this high calling as disciples of our Lord live out not only in the soul, but in the body as well, so that at the resurrection of the dead, our bodies will be with us in heaven reflecting the glory of God through Jesus Christ.

Hail true Body, Holy Body, born of the Virgin Mary, who truly suffered and was sacrificed on the cross for men. From your pierced side streamed blood and water. Be a foretaste of heaven to us in our death agony. O dear Jesus! O kind Jesus! O Jesus, Son of Mary. Amen

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Following the star of faith we come in body and soul before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in order to adore His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity

Solemnity of the Epiphany. January 8th, 2012

Today we celebrate the feast of Epiphany. The day the three wise men came from a far to Bethlehem to adore the newborn King. Epiphany means manifestation. This great solemnity is the Church’s way to commemorate the first manifestation of the Son of God to the Gentile or pagan world. Every since the fall of mankind, God the Father has desired that all of mankind would return back to communion with Him, back into His Family, a Communion of Love.

The Father’s plan was to begin to reveal the truth to the Israelites and then use them as an example to lead all the nations (the gentiles) back to Him. The gentiles were of course all the people who were not Jews or Israelites. The wise men coming to Bethlehem signify the Father moving beyond just the Israelites to all mankind. He wants to reveal to all men of good will the fullness of the Truth, found in the Divine Person of His only begotten Son-Jesus.

The Wise-men were probably astrologers and philosophers before they were converted to the Christ Child. The Wise-men, in their wisdom followed the star, which led them to adore God become man, who was before them as a little child in great silence and simplicity. The Wise-men, who were seeking the truth, open to the truth, prostrated themselves to the ground, worshiping and adoring the infant Child Jesus.

Today, the Father wants us to understand that to reach the truth we must imitate the Wise-men and adore with our body and soul in great simplicity and littleness, the Child Jesus. We must be humble because God doesn’t manifest Himself in the way we might expect or in the way the world might expect. When we are seeking the Truth, we must like the Wise-men, end in adoration of Jesus, the Jesus who came and who continues to come to us not in riches, fanfare or sensationalism, but in poverty, silence and simplicity.

The star that lead the Wise-men safely to Jesus was itself a gift given by the Heavenly Father to safely lead all those who desire with their whole heart the one thing that would fill the ultimate desire of every human heart—Jesus Christ, Truth Incarnate, Truth Itself in the flesh. It was the Father Who placed in the open hearts of the Wise-men the desire to follow the star in search for the Truth. Those, such as Herod, who didn’t follow the star by listening to the Father in humbleness and purity and in the silence of their hearts didn’t find the Truth, Who was Jesus. Sadly like so many today, Herod lacked wisdom, and so only saw in Jesus a threat to his way of life, a threat to his so-called “freedom;” He had closed his heart to the Truth-Jesus.

What about us today, what star is there to manifest to us the truth about Jesus Christ, and the Truth Who is Jesus Christ? The Father also desires us to be lead safely to His Son, the Incarnate Jesus. He wants us to come to know Jesus even more intimately than ever. He may not give us a large star in the sky; nevertheless, God wants to give us, interiorly, that is, in the silence of our hearts, the star of His grace and wisdom in order to point us to the true Jesus. Not to who the Herod’s of this world think Jesus is, or not to who we think Jesus is or who we think He should be. The Father wants to manifest to us who Jesus really is, the fullness of Father’s Revelation about Himself, the fullness of the truth about God and man; and I would add the truth about each one of us, for we can only truly discover ourselves in the light of Christ.

The star given to us today from our Heavenly Father is the gift of faith--faith in His Church and faith in the truths God gives us through the Catholic Church and her teachings, which we faithfully live out in our daily lives with the help of God’s grace, given to us throught the Sacraments. For the star given to us today, ultimately points us to the Sacraments, especially that Most Blessed of All Sacraments, the Holy Eucharist, the source of all grace, because it is Jesus himself-Truth Incarnate.

Holy Mother the Church has always seen in the adoration of the Wise-men, an example of the adoration that we must show before the Blessed Sacrament. We must come before Him just like the wise men- bowing down and offering every treasure of ours to him; thus, making an act of faith in His Incarnation; that is, and act of faith that He is still truly bodily present, and so still truly with us in the Holy Eucharist-God with us!

Following the star of faith we come in body and soul before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in order to adore His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. We come before Jesus who manifests himself to us in even greater humility and silence than His manifestation to the three Wise-men. Before the Blessed Sacrament we come to adore the same Jesus--Incarnate, in the same body that lay before the three wise men in the crib. And in our adoration of Him we come to share in the divinity of Him who humbled Himself to share in our humanity--Jesus the way to union with Father. Adoration of the Holy Eucharist more and more opens our hearts to God!

Holy Mary, stella Maris, stella orientis, ora pro nobis—Holy Mary, star of the sea, star of the east, pray for us; you are our star that points us to the divine Child-Jesus, the God-Man who is still with us in the Holy Eucharist. Obtain for us an increase of faith that the Holy Mass is that privledge place where the Holy Exchange of God with men continues to take place, where heaven and earth continues to unite, where the divinity of God cointinues to stoops down to take on our humanity that we may be taken up to share in His divinity in order to become one with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and with one another, in a union of eternal love. Amen.