Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 14, 2018 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In the second reading, Saint Paul asks the Corinthians to “avoid immorality” (1 Cor 6:18). Corinth was a great and populous city. The port of Corinth was one of the most important in the Roman Empire. It was very cosmopolitan, a great center of culture, attracting every sort of philosophy and religion. It was also a notorious center of immorality. Corinth was known for its debauchery and licentiousness.

What Corinth was is more or less what our world is today. However, Saint Paul says that Christians should be different. He says that our faith introduces a new way of understanding the human body, a more beautiful and greater way of seeing the body. Saint Paul is not against the body. On the contrary, he speaks in defense of the true value of the body (cf. 1 Cor 6:13C–15A, 17–20).

No doubt, Saint Paul’s words are very current. Nowadays, for many Catholics it seems that their faith does not have anything to do with a moral way of living. In the end, what everybody does and thinks in society seems to be the rule. What the Church teaches is ignored or considered outdated.

When I was in my former parish, I was invited by a high school philosophy teacher to speak with his students about religious values. When I entered the class, the students assailed me with many questions, such as why I was not married, why the Church teaches things about sexuality from the Middle Ages etc. When I could speak, I only asked them two questions: “Do you like to be loved?” They answered: “Yes!” Then I asked: “Do you like to be used?” After a moment of silence, some of them lowered their gaze and said: “No.” I said: “What the Church defends has to do with being loved and not being used. We are persons and we are not objects.” After that, there was a great silence in the classroom.

Saint Paul affirms that an immoral way of living deeply affects our relationship with Christ. He reminds us that the body is a “temple of the Holy Spirit” and we are not our own property. One of the most important truths of our faith is that we belong.

What does it mean to be moral? We immediately identify this with obedience to rules or commandments. However, it is much more than that. To be moral is to accept that everything belongs to Christ. To be moral is to look at everything with gratitude, to understand everything as a gift and not as a possession. To be moral does not mean to be a Puritan. Christian purity is not a rejection of anything but an acceptance of everything as a gift from God.  Our body is a gift and we are called to be a gift to others. When we forget that we are a gift and we are not giving ourselves to others, we are acting immorally.

To be moral is a deeper way of loving. It is to love in the way that Jesus loved.  The source of morality is to discover that God knows us by name. In the first reading, Samuel was called by name (cf. 1 Sm 3:4–10). It is in the discovery of the love that God has for us that we find the strength and reasons to be moral. It is the experience of God’s mercy that frees us from the slavery of instinct.

In the Gospel, Jesus asked his disciples: “What are you looking for?” (cf. Jn 1:38). Psalm 119 says: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart.”  What allows us to be pure is to keep the search for God alive within us. It is to have a great heart open to the infinite.

Let us ask Our Lady to preserve in us a loving heart, a pure and clean heart—like spring water.  Amen.

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