The second reading at Mass tomorrow, the second Sunday in Ordinary (green) time, comes from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Corinth, a port city, was renowned as a melting pot for cultures and for the moral lassitude of many who lived there.
The body is not meant for fornication: it is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. God, who raised the Lord from the dead, will by his power raise us up too.
You know, surely, that your bodies are members making up” the body of Christ; do you think I can take parts of Christ’s body and join them to the body of a prostitute? Never! But anyone who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
Keep away from fornication. All the other sins are committed outside the body; but to fornicate is to sin against your own body. Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you since you received him from God. You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for. That is why you should use your body for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 6:13-15,17-20
Paul is clear: a Christian is part of Christ, and the whole of the Christian’s life should be lived in accord with this acquired, gifted, honoured, identity.
His responses to the situation of the Corithians are firmly based on this. He considers a number of aspects of their common life – marriage, chastity, worship, mission.
Scholars and commentators argue as to what, precisely, Paul means by ‘fornication’, porneia. Some have sought to limit his injunction to participation in temple cultic prostitution!
Maybe the more helpful way of responding to the teaching – for the most part – is not attempting to determine what is permitted and what is not, but seeking to see how free the person is for ‘using their body for the glory of God’. After all there are plenty of chaste people who fail to do this. We should be in no doubt Paul would have something to say about them!
How do you live for the glory of God?
What do you think compromises your living for God?
What for others would seem to compromise your living for God?
How might you better address any tension between these views?
The images used for the posts for this first ‘green’ Sunday all have a green component. And they feature buildings – secular, sacred, domestic and public. In England and Wales this year hosts Proclaim ’15 – an initiative to promote the new evangelisation, sharing the Gospel in all places, all communities. Buildings sometimes seem sympathetic to Gospel values, sometimes not! Sometimes they seek to put, or keep ‘us’ in our present place; sometimes they offer something more apt for growth or change.
Photograph of home in Vancouver, Canada. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.