Sunday, February 28, 2021

It's my body... isn't it?

Propers for the second Sunday in Lent

Sermon for the second Sunday in Lent

Why do we refer to a human being as somebody or address lots of people as everybody? We used to say things like, "poor soul" and we still have All Soul's Day. We also send up a sign of distress with an SOS - save our souls.

The way we talk about ourselves is significant. We know that a human being has two bits - a body we can see and a soul that we can't. Even then we get confused. Some like to say that you don't have a soul but you are a soul. Others like to say that we are made of body, mind and spirit.

This is interesting: we have moved away from talking about souls and focus more on bodies. Because souls are not obvious and really the most personal aspects of who we are, we have difficulty talking about them and our language reflects that.
And it has consequences.


The more we focus on our bodies the more we believe that we are just bodies. We forget about the needs of our soul. We begin to think that as long as our bodies are happy, our souls must be happy too. And when our body needs something then we think that what it needs is good for the soul.

And St Paul says, "rubbish!"


He will tell you that the wants of your body are at war with the wants of your soul. That's not saying that they are always in direct opposition: we need to eat, drink, sleep and keep warm to keep body and soul together and stay alive. But what the body thinks it needs are often completely at odds with what the soul needs to thrive.

What we do with our body affects our soul.
What we fail to do with our soul affects our body.


When the Gentiles are first welcomed into the Church, they are told that they must not eat food sacrificed to idols not must they engage in fornication. Look at that! Both these conditions are to do with the conduct of our bodies. Gentiles do not have to keep the whole of the Hebrew Law but they do have to keep themselves pure. They have to see that what we do does affect who we are. Impure actions start in our soul and are strengthened when we carry out those actions in our body. 

It matters what we eat and it matters who we sleep with. It may feel right in our bodies, but it may not be right in our souls.


But we don't know our souls very well. You know already that we have difficulty in understanding and talking about them. This means that we have to trust God and what He tells us about our souls. God gives us moral standards to live by because He can see our souls and bodies.

If He tells us that we must not sleep with people outside marriage and that marriage exists only between a man and a woman, then we have to take Him at His word. To do otherwise damages the soul.

Of course, if we have forgotten about the soul then we are tempted to see sex as one of God's good gifts to be enjoyed without understanding the limits of how it is good for us. We are now seeing people so focussed on the needs of their bodies that they become depressed when those needs are met. Meeting those needs is being confused with Love: how can it be Love if it satisfies the body and not the soul?


Lent gives us an opportunity to listen to what our body says it needs and take it with a pinch of salt. We put aside in satisfying bodily needs completely in order to listen to our souls and, most importantly, to God Who knows us better than we know ourselves.


Perhaps also we need to stop talking about everybody and begin to start talking about everysoul instead. Perhaps in doing so, we shall turn our gaze back to the Holy Spirit and realise we don't have a body - it is being lent to us by God.

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