Friday, November 12, 2010

Memorial of St. Josephat, bishop and martyr

(II John 4-9; Luke 17:26-37)

It may seem that those whom the presbyter John accuses in the first reading today of not believing that Jesus Christ came in the flesh are spiritualists who have little appetite for carnal pleasure. The truth is likely the opposite. They probably believe that Jesus’ enlightenment is psychological to the extent that it does not matter what they do with their bodies. So they indulge vigorously in sexual pleasure. Of course, as the presbyter points out, Jesus is fully human, his grace chastens the body as well as the soul, and his followers must discipline themselves.

One wonders if pastoral challenges change much over the centuries. Today also a few still believe that they can live a promiscuous life and be faithful Christians. One woman is quoted in a book on preaching that this is what Jesus means when he says that he comes to bring life in its fullness. But the Church teaches strongly and consistently that following Christ includes curbing sexual desire so that fulfillment comes not in pleasure but in sacrificing oneself for the good of others.