Your Body Does Not Belong to You

(Homily for Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B)

“I’ve only killed a louse, Sonia, a useless, loathsome, harmful creature.”
“A human being—a louse!” (Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment*)

This Sunday we inaugurate a week dedicated to the Sanctity of Human Life. In a few moments we will listen to a speaker from Human Life of Washington. Before introducing the speaker, I will indicate how this issue ties in with the Scripture readings we have just heard.

Sanctity of Human Life is about the issues which are most fundamental to our society: protection of the unborn and their mothers, care for terminally ill, scientific research which respects basic human values and the defense of those who are most vulnerable. These issues have political ramifications, but our deepest concern is not politics. In fact, politics, in the sense of laws and programs, is a tiny part of the whole picture. The real goal is conversion of hearts which will lead a new culture: one where the strong defend the weak, where those who are blessed care for those who are in trouble. That will only happen when we look at ourselves and our world in a radically different way. The readings today indicate the two steps we need to take.

We see the first step in the Gospel. Almost everyone knows that St. Peter was the “Prince of the Apostles,” that Jesus gave him a new name – Cephas – which means rock. But even though Simon Peter had primacy among the apostles, he was not the first to meet Jesus. Rather Peter’s brother Andrew met Jesus first. He then told Simon, “We have found the Messiah.” That is the first step. We must find Jesus – or allow someone to introduce us to him.

Having met Jesus and accepted him as Lord, our life changes. It could not be expressed more dramatically than in today’s second reading. St. Paul tells the Corinthians: “The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord.” Those were hard words for the people of Corinth. Before Paul introduced them to Christ, they had built their lives around sensual pleasure. But it did not bring them happiness, only heartbreak and despair. Still, it was hard for them to give up their old behaviors. Paul had to remind them that Jesus had “purchased them at price.” They now belonged to him – not just their souls, but their bodies as well. No Christian can say, “My body is my own. I can do whatever I want.” No, your body is not your own; we belong to the Lord. This Sunday I have invited a speaker from Human Life to help us understand more deeply what it means to belong to Jesus.


*If you wish to understand the philosophical roots of the euthanasia and abortion movements, I encourage you to read Dostoevsky's prophetic novel.

Spanish Version

From the Archives:

Second Sunday, Year B, 2009: Chosen with Care
2006: Your Body Does Not Belong to You
2003: Rabbi, Messiah, Cephas
2000: The Hardest Saying in the Bible

From Archives (Homilies on St. Peter and St. Paul):

Year of St. Paul
What Peter Meant to Paul
The Two Keys
Jesus Establishes a Sacred Order

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Bulletin (Desire of Nations, Retreat in Amity, Human Life Speaker)


Abortion and Pro-Choice

Stem Cell Research: Teaching of Bible & Catholic Church

Germaine Greer on Birth Control

Human Cloning: A Catholic Perspective (How the Unthinkable Became Inevitable)

Good Friday Service for Life vs. Dr. Leroy Hood's Support of Cloning & Embryonic Stem Cell Research

“The Book of Daniel” is vintage Hollywood

Mark Shea on Intelligent Design in classroom debate: Pointing out that "It. Is. Not. Science." is not sufficient reason for the courts to ban ID. To do so, they must show "It. Is. Establishment. of. Religion". They haven't.

Washington Post on St. Steno and Galileo:

Steno was primarily an anatomist, but he is best remembered for his pioneering studies in geology. In 1669 he published in Florence -- Galileo's old stomping grounds -- a startling proposal: that the fossils and rock layers of the earth, if studied scientifically, gave a chronicle of the earth's history at least as valid as the accepted version in the verses of Genesis. Memories of Galileo's transgression were still painfully fresh, and, if anything, Steno's ideas would seem to have been more provocative than Galileo's. How did the 17th-century Church react? Was Steno condemned? His work suppressed?


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