ROME, JAN. 13, 2006 (Zenit.org).-
Here is a translation of a commentary by Capuchin Father Raniero
Cantalamessa, the preacher to the Pontifical Household, on this
Sunday's liturgical readings.
of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
(1 Samuel 3:3b-10,19;
1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a,17-20; John 1:35-42)
* * *
God in Your Body
The Gospel passage
allows us to be present at the formation of the first nucleus of
disciples, from which will first develop the College of Apostles
and then the whole Christian community. John is still on the
banks of the Jordan River with two of his disciples when he sees
Jesus go by and does not hesitate to cry out again: "Behold the
Lamb of God!" The two disciples understand, and, leaving the
Baptist for good, they start to follow Jesus.
Seeing that they are
following him, Jesus turns to them and asks: "What do you seek?"
To break the ice, they respond: "Teacher, where are you
staying?" "Come and see," he replies. They went, they saw him
and that day they stayed with him. That moment became decisive
for them in their lives, remembering even the hour it occurred:
it was close to four o'clock in the afternoon.
In the second
reading, St. Paul illustrates a feature that must characterize
the life of Christ's disciple: purity. "The body," he says among
other things, "is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord,
and the Lord for the body. … So glorify God in your body." Given
that it is a topic much discussed and vital for our present-day
society, it is worthwhile to give it our attention.
Perhaps those who are
able to understand best the subject of purity are precisely
those who are truly in love. Sex becomes "impure" when it
reduces the other (or one's own body) to an object, a thing, but
this is something that true love refuses to do. Many of the
excesses taking place in this area are somewhat artificial; they
are due to an external imposition dictated by commercial or
consumerist motives. It is not, as one is lead to believe, the
"spontaneous evolution of customs." It is a guided, imposed
One of the
excuses that contributes most to fostering the sin of impurity
in the common mentality and to divest it of all responsibility
is the idea that in any case, it harms no one, it does not harm
the rights or liberty of others except, it is said, in the case
of rape or violation.
But it is not true
that the sin of impurity ends with the one who commits it.
All abuse, no matter where and who commits it, contaminates
man's moral environment, causes an erosion of values and creates
what Paul defines "the law of sin," illustrating as he does its
terrible power to drag people to ruin (cf. Romans 7:14ff).
The first victims of
all this are in fact young people. Phenomena so condemned, such
as the exploitation of minors, rape, pedophilia, but also
certain atrocities committed not on minors, but by minors -- are
not born from nothing. They are, at least in part, the result of
the climate of exasperated excitation in which we live and in
which the most fragile succumb.
It was not easy, once
it began, to stop the mudslide that some time ago struck Sarno
and other populations of Campania, destroying them. It was
necessary to avoid the felling of trees and other environmental
damages that made the mudslide inevitable. The same is true for
certain tragedies connected to sex: Having destroyed the natural
defenses, the tragedies become inevitable.
But today it is not
enough to have a purity based on fears, taboos, prohibitions,
the mutual escape of man and woman, as if each one of them were,
always and necessarily, a trap for the other and a potential
enemy, instead of, as the Bible says, "a help." It is necessary
to stress defenses that are no longer external but internal,
based on personal convictions. Purity must be cultivated for
itself, for the positive value it represents for the individual,
and not only because of concerns of health or good name to which
its transgression exposes one.
the most precious thing that exists in the world: the
possibility to approach God. "Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God," said Jesus.
They will not see
him just one day, after their death, but already now: In the
beauty of creation, of a face, of a work of art; they will see
him in their own hearts.