Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20

God's Gift of the Body

Popular Translation

13c Your body was not meant for selfish sex. Your body was meant to serve the Lord, just as he serves you. 14 Just as God raise up Jesus with his power, he will raise us up on the last day. 15a Don't you know your bodies are connected to the body of Christ? 17 Those who are joined to Christ are united with his Spirit.

18 So, run away from sexual sins! Most sins have nothing to do with our bodies. But sexual sins degrade our bodies. 19 After all, don't you know that your body is the place God's Spirit lives? You belong to God, not to yourself.

Literal Translation

13c The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord for the body. 14 But God raised up the Lord, and he will raise us up with his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?

17 The (one) having been united to the Lord is one in spirit (with him). 18 Flee from sexual immorality! Every (other) sin a man might does is outside the body. But the (one) committing sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or, do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you which you have from God? You are not your own!

St. Paul visited the community at Corinth between 45 to 51 AD (the later date was more likely). As he was leaving Ephesus (circa 54 AD), he wrote to the church on matters of some importance. Fellowship had deteriorated into cliques, in-fighting ,and power grabs. Outside influences had challenged the core beliefs and morality of its members. A libertine philosophy had gained a foothold among some in the Church.

In chapter six, Paul addressed this matter directly. After he acknowledged the freedom Christians were given (6:12), he argued that sexual license was not true freedom. For sexual license did not acknowledge the roots and responsibilities of such freedom. The roots of Christian freedom were found in the justifying grace God gave the believer. The Christian was no longer guilty, simply because he or she had a relationship with God the Father. And, as such, the Christian was responsible to God the Father. The person who claims sexual license was too self-absorbed to seek the roots of freedom or to exercise responsibility to someone greater than he or she was.

The interesting part of Paul's argument was his focus on the value of the body. This was purely Jewish in concept. The Greek culture in which the Corinthians lived downplayed the body and exalted the spirit. But, for Paul, the physical body had dignity as a vessel for the Spirit and a promise of the final resurrection. The body and spirit were inseparable.

Bodies grow up. Bodies grow old. No matter the shape of our bodies, they are still God's gift to us. They remind us where the Spirit dwells in the world. And they are a foretaste of our future on the final day. They reaffirm St. Paul's contention that we belong to God, not to ourselves.

Sit for a few moments and relax. As you sense your body's rhythms (or pains), thank God for the gift he gave you. Let those rhythms (or pains) remind you that you belong to God.