We have been created to know, love, and serve God. To know Him is to love Him, and to love Him is to serve Him. But do you know Him? My non-denominational Christian brother asks me occasionally if I have a “personal relationship” with Jesus, and it’s a good question. Do you ever ask yourself as you sit in this big drafty church once a week if anyone is actually listening? Do I know Jesus, or do I just know about Jesus? In the first reading the boy Samuel hears God calling his name in the middle of the night, but “at that time Samuel was not familiar with the Lord…” Once he realizes who it is (with the help of the priest Eli), Samuel dares to speak back to God, but carefully addressing him as Lord as the Lord’s servant, and a servant who is listening: “Speak, O Lord, thy servant is listening.” It’s a perfect description of the “personal relationship” between a Christian and the Lord Jesus.
Until I was about 13, God was not real for me. I did my prayers, but I didn’t “listen” when I prayed, nor imagine that anyone was actually listening to me. In 8th grade I joined a charismatic youth group and saw people speaking and listening to God as a person. My mother had been doing this all her life, but I never realized it until I saw people my own age praying from the heart. I too began to pray from the heart. Christianity, more than any other region, is friendship, with God and with the communion of saints. We should be careful not to despise, or neglect, friendship—notice that Samuel needed Eli to teach him how to pray, as I needed my mother and my youth group friends.
In the Gospel, Andrew brings his brother Simon to Jesus. Christ looks at Simon, straight in the eyes, and says, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Kephas” (which means Peter, or Rocky). “I know you Simon, and I like you. I want to be your friend, even though I am your Master and Lord. Good friends change each other for the better, so I am going to change you—your name for starters.” For our part, we must seek His friendship, and be humble enough to receive the transformation that comes from friendship. We seek a relationship with Christ in dedicated prayer and a real effort to follow his teachings. “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
Glorify God in your body
Once we know and love God as our friend, we desire to serve him as our Lord. Our powerful second reading, from 1 Corinthians, addresses one area of service that we find it hardest to obey: submitting our bodies to the glory of God. Brothers, says Saint Paul, “your bodies are not your own—they belong to God, so glorify God in your bodies.” We live in the aftermath of the so-called sexual revolution of the 1960s. In 1971 a book articulating and justifying so-called sexual freedom came out called Our Bodies Ourselves. It claimed that we own our own bodies, and we can do whatever we want with them. That claim is false. Our bodies are not our own. They have been given to us; we didn’t make them, and we don’t own them. They are given us for a higher purpose, just as the earth and everything in it is given to us, not to exploit, but to respect and cultivate. We are stewards of the land, the air, and the sea, and we are stewards, not owners, of our bodies.
Two years after Our Bodies Ourselves came out, the Supreme Court legalized abortion based on that same faulty logic. The mantra used to justify the killing of unborn children became “it is my body and I’ll do what I want with it.” But any embryologist will tell you that the unborn child is genetically distinct from his or her mother’s body, even though the two individuals enjoy the closest of intimacies.
Our bodies are sacred, temples of God’s Holy Spirit. That’s why 60,000 of us will be marching in San Francisco this coming Saturday, to speak truth and reason to the irrational culture of death spawned by the so-called Sexual Revolution. Everybody’s body is a gift of God, “so glorify God in your bodies.” If we know Jesus, we will love Him, and we will serve Him with all our body and soul. Let’s serve him this Saturday by walking our bodies down Market Street, with all patience and charity to those who oppose us, testifying to the truth about the human person.
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