Year B: 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5: 6-10
St Paul is again expressing some of his insights into the nature of life and death - that living in the body means we are in exile from the Lord and exile from the body allows us to be with the Lord.
At one level this can seem quite a negative view of life and taken to its extreme, feeds gnostic and other views of the supremacy of the spirit and despising of the body.
It is unlikely that St Paul meant this at all - he, after all saw our clay vessels as holding a spiritual treasure and our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. He is simply longing for the day when he will be reunited with the Lord he met on the road to Damascus.
The time in our bodies is a time where we can still be pleasing God by living virtuous lives - not just get from birth to death in the shortest possible time. Indeed, our reward depends on how we use this time on earth.
This is not a matter of earning brownie points - doing things in order to gain a reward. St Paul’s attitude is not one of dealing with God - of preaching the Good News just in order to get to heaven.
His whole motivation is founded in his passionate love of Christ and zeal for his mission. He is totally assured of his place in heaven and longs to take it up but realises that he has this time on earth for a purpose and wants to use it well.
There may be times in our lives when we long to be with Christ or with loved ones who have died. Our lives can feel burdensome and pointless. It is good then to look to Paul for a role model who may offer a way of revitalising a sense of purpose.
What God has given us to do will vary but we can be sure that whatever purpose it is there is no one else who could do it. We may not feel that we are in St Paul’s league but the greatness of his work should not put us off doing ours. As St Thérèse of Lisieux taught, even picking up a thread from the floor with love for God was a significant action. We may not change the world as St Paul did, but we can make a difference. Our challenge is to keep our lives intent on pleasing God using our time here to build the Kingdom in whatever way is given to us.
What does it mean for me?
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