Paul on Paul – 13th June 2021

11th Sunday in Ordinary time; Year B
2 Corinthians 5:6-10

We are always full of confidence when we remember that as long to live in the body means to be exiled from the Lord, going as we do by faith and not by sight – we are full of confidence, I say, and actually want to be exiled from the body and make our home with the Lord. Whether we are living in the body or exiled from it, we are intent on pleasing him. For all the truth about us will be brought out in the law court of Christ, and each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good and bad.

The was an old heresy called Gnostisism which is the wrong belief that a person’s soul was the only important part of a person, not their body. The Body – and the entire material world, in fact – was an evil that will be, and deserves to be, destroyed; and it is the Soul that truly is ‘the person’.

Reading today’s 2nd reading from St. Paul, if one wanted to arrive at that answer, you could. There is a tension set-up there, between us being “…exiled from the Lord…” in the body. But that is not what St. Paul is really saying here. He isn’t saying it it the fault of the body that we are separated from God; he is merely ackowledging that our earthly bodies are a sign of that separation. It is always important to bear in mind that Genesis created man and woman “and was greatly pleased” – he created the Body and whatever God creates cannot be inately bad.

What is important, though, is what we can use our body to acheive. St. Paul says that whether we are in the Body or with the Lord we want to please Him. Even though we are not near to him physically, we can be spiritually and authenticlly close to Him. And the body does not, in itself, keep us apart from God – but what we do, and how we show our desire for the Lord shows who we are.

And that is what St. Paul warns the Corinthians at the end of this weekend’s passage from his letter. We are in the body and we are physically separated from God – so we must choose what we do in that time. And, in the end, “each of us will get what he deserves for the things he did in the body, good and bad”.

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