|Hike in Abraham Lincoln Park, Rochester NY|
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 agebut 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. Rom 12:1-2
These two verses from Romans encapsulate the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately this translation used by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in the lectionary used in the U.S. uses a literal rather than an idiomatic translation for "your bodies." Most translations use "your lives" as a more accurate rendering of the underlying meaning. For the Jews of the first century, there was no distinction between "you" and "your body." An alive body was the reality of an alive person. When the early Christians professed a belief in the "resurrection of the body," they were professing a belief in the resurrection of the person into eternal life. This confusion over "body" and "life" has led to a great deal of angst about what our bodies would look like, where in the universe would we be embodied, etc. The fact is that Jesus talked about life, not bodies, and promised eternal life.
Unfortunately this use of "body" in this passage can send us into a state of inattention. We have heard all this before about how we have to sacrifice our body because the body with its ever present danger of uncontrolled sexual desire and behavior is what keeps us from the Holy One and a life of discipleship. How different it is to consider offering our life to the Holy One so that we are transformed by a new way of thinking that does not force us into the mold of our contemporary culture. With this new way of thinking, we can, perhaps for the first time, think about what the Divine One desires for us and our lives.