Sermon on the Apostolic reading for the Sunday of the prodigal son (1st Corinthians 6:12-20)24 February 2019
In the parable of the “Prodigal Son,” which we heard from the Holy Gospel (Luke 15:11-32), we saw a situation where a man embraces “prodigal living.” He was a free man who became a slave, and grazed with the “pigs” of his fleshly passions.
This is what the Apostolic Reading is also talking about. The Apostle Paul does not hesitate to characterize sin and call it by its name. This is a contrast to what we observe in our days, in that the most obscene and unnatural acts are promoted and displayed for imitation; and that modern people cannot be held captive by the ideas of ancient times! The Apostle Paul clearly states: “The body is not for sexual immorality, but to glorify the Lord” (verse 13). And the Apostle cried: “Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin that a man does is outside his own body; but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (verse 18). The most destructive sin for the body is the one that is committed against itself. How many people have been wiped out by diseases, which in our days have evolved into epidemics!
To those who claim today that “my body belongs to me and I am free to do with it as I want,” the Apostle Paul gives the following answer: “You do not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price”(verses 19-20).
Truly, have we understood that? That God has created the body of each one of us, paying with His Son’s Blood to redeem it from the slavery of the wicked and make it His temple, His dwelling, to remain in us forever? So we Christians should see our body as God’s temple, and as a member of the body of Christ. With Holy Baptism we have been united with Christ, we have been sanctified; “Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot?” is what the Apostle Paul asking (see verse 15).
What the Apostle Paul teaches us about this great issue of purity comes as a follow-up to what the Lord Himself taught on this subject. Indeed, Jesus emphasized not only the avoidance of the act of sin, but even the wicked desire (see Matthew 5:28). That is why our Church, during this period of the “Triodion” and Great Lent, comes to help us with fasting, rich Holy Services, and with spiritual exercises. The intention is to take us away from thoughts and deeds that break down the body, and lift it to honor that which was raised by the Creator.
The Apostle Paul finally calls us to this: “Glorify God with your body and with your spirit, who belong to Him” (verse 20). Not only with our soul, but also with our body, we are glorifying God!
What an honorable mission the word of God gives to our body! In contrast to the anti-Christian belief that the body is bad and the seat of evil (to be tortured and exhausted), the Son of God, Jesus Christ, honored the body to the utmost when He took one Himself. By taking on the human body, Jesus completed the work of the salvation of the world, with its eventual praise by His Resurrection, when with this body He ascended to His heavenly throne! Our own bodies will be raised by the Lord in His Second Coming, united with our souls where we will enjoy eternal glory, those who have lived according to the will of the Lord!
Let us, therefore, glorify our Lord God, through actions and good works, carried out with our bodies and spirits. To do so with pure feelings, with the saints and the joyful devotion that springs from our souls.