Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

While He suffered in the garden, Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41) There is often among religious people a similar attitude toward the flesh, a great disdain or even disgust toward its many flaws, its weaknesses, its gravitation toward temptation and sin. We can forget, if we are not careful, that the promised resurrection is not merely a spiritual reality; Jesus intends to redeem our flesh as well. Did He not have a risen body, one that St. Thomas touched? Did He not eat with His friends after His rising, to prove His bodily presence? (Luke 24:41-43)

Today’s Gospel illustrates one of the many tender moments of mercy where Jesus cleanses the flesh of the suffering: here it is a leper in particular. There is a union between the body and the soul; we cannot divorce them. In His healing ministry not only is Jesus bringing us to fuller life but is also teaching us that God loves and intends to redeem the whole person, not merely the soul, not merely the body. Are not the very hairs of our heads numbered by our loving Father? (Matt. 10:30) When we pray the Our Father we ask for His forgiveness, we ask for His help against temptation, but we ask also for our daily bread.

The Son of God is no longer spirit only; a few weeks ago we celebrated the birth of the Word-Made-Flesh. He comes not only to save our soul but to save our entire being; the waters of baptism cleanse not only our spirits but begin the cleansing of our bodies as well. We know well St. Paul’s teaching that the body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:12-20); let us allow Jesus to raise this precious Temple within each of us, to cleanse and purify our entire being in the grace of God’s Fatherly love.

January 15th, 2015