In this Sunday’s Scripture passages, there are two verses that could easily be missed. In the second reading, from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 12:1-2, we read St. Paul’s impassioned plea to his community in Rome:
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine translation).
This is a jewel among many jewels to be found in Paul’s writings. How appropriate it is for us who hear it today, though it was written some twenty-two centuries ago. He often spoke of the holiness of our bodies, and the Church reminds us today by placing this reading before us that our bodies are not evil, or sinful, or meant to be used for sinful pleasure. Rather each of us is called to treasure this gift and offer it as a sacrifice–that is, a pure offering, holy and pleasing to God. Paul goes on to say that we should not be deceived by contemporary philosophies and delusions that tempt us to question who we are or Whose we are as regards our individual and unique personhood. He urges us, as he urged his local Church in Rome so long ago, not to conform ourselves to prevailing distortions, but to allow our minds to be transformed so that we can know what is good, pleasing and perfect.
How do we transform our minds? By avoiding those things that confuse us, or tempt us to sin, or make us doubt what we know in the depth of our heart to be true and beautiful. It’s far too easy to find ourselves entranced, through simple curiosity, with images for which our eyes were not made. We may be spending God’s good time reading things that end up disturbing our hearts; or using (abusing, really) the media in ways that are unholy or that make us, at the end of the day (literally), feel uncomfortable in our own skin. In a positive way, we can transform our minds by seeking writings, podcasts or videos that bring our hearts peace and clarify opinions about things that others question. We can attend parish missions, or join bible studies or listen to Bishop Barron. We can choose to associate with people who share our values, and better yet, our faith. Above all, we can spend time with our Lord in adoration chapels, or make a short visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on the way home from class or work. Praying the Rosary is a beautiful means to still and transform our minds on the way to meetings or school. And just sharing good thoughts and ideas with trusted friends can help to redirect (re-calibrate, if you will) our minds and hearts in Christ Jesus. All of this will make us strong to resist the evil one who prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls. And it will make us people who offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
May your week be pure and beautiful.