Sunday, October 09, 2016

Bodily lies

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity 2016

We are constantly being lied to.

 You may think that this is coming from politicians, or people of importance, people who run this world, yet the fact is that they are being lied to, too. We are all being lied to.

This particular lie has always walked with humanity, even before Our Lord was born. It is very simple: spirit good, flesh bad. The idea is that all we see around us is inherently bad, that the world is a prison and something to escape from. The only good things are spiritual and the way to live a good life is by abandoning material things completely and live a spiritual life so that, when we die, our spirit can be free of this body of death.

The trouble is that it sounds so Christian. We can hear Our Lord saying, ”For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it,” or “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” We can hear St Paul say, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Perhaps we aren’t being lied to after all.

But we are, because we keep hearing the opposite lie, that there is no God, no such thing as the spirit, that there are only those things for which we have scientific evidence. All that exists is matter and energy and nothing else. It seems that we are being presented with a choice: reject the body and seek the spirit, or reject the spirit and seek the body. Neither are right with God.

Let us be clear. We believe in the Resurrection of the body. Look at how God has created us. We are the union of body and spirit – one soul but with two different aspects of our being. We cannot be pure spirit, nor pure body otherwise we cease to be human. We are not body and soul: we are each a soul – a living being. We have to love God more than ourselves otherwise we will lose any form of being that we have. It is our sins that make our bodies difficult to live with. It is not the world that is our prison, it is Sin.

God created our bodies to be part of ourselves. This is what God has created and He is no liar. We must not live our lives then as if our bodies are evil, treating them with contempt and wishing our lives to be over for God has given us life to enjoy with Him. Neither should we give ourselves over to worldly living as if there is nothing after death. St Paul urges us to redeem the time, “because the days are evil.” Our Lord has redeemed us by His own blood. Likewise, we are to redeem living in this world by living with Our Lord, enjoying the life that He gives us and helping others to enjoy life. Just as Our Lord’s blood gives us life and blessing, so is the Church to give life and blessing to the world so that it may be able to see the Creator within us.

Life is full of hardship, pain and loss, and realising this can send us down one of the two paths of lies. In the Holy Spirit, we can tread the narrow way back to God, remembering that we are His creation and being thankful for it. In Him every tear will be wiped away. In Him every joy will be made complete. That’s the truth.

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