Flesh, According to St Paul
by Father Charles Irvin, M.Div, J.D.
In order to properly understand what Saint Paul is teaching us in todayís
Second Reading we need to know the meaning of the words he uses. That is why I want to take a look at the word
ďFleshĒ and begin this reflection by asking you to not equate
ďFleshĒ with ďBody.Ē Saint Paul uses the word
Flesh to speak of Human Frailty, a concept that goes far beyond
that which is merely Sensual. Saint Paul isnít limiting himself to
Sins of Human Sensuality. He is instead pointing to Human
Weaknesses, particularly Sins that include
Idolatry, Materialism, Hatred and
Racism, Rivalry and Competitiveness,
Jealousy, Envy, Elitism,
Arrogance, Acts of Violence, and all such like.
When we contrast the concept of Flesh (as Saint Paul understands
it) with its Opposite, we find him speaking about the Dominion of
the Spirit. In another Epistle he tells us that what the Spirit
produces in us is Love, Joy, Peace,
Patience, Kindness, Generosity,
Faithfulness and Self-Control. Christ,
as Paul writes, frees us from the Dominion of the Flesh and, by the Power of the
Holy Spirit, establishes us in Godís New Creation, making us
His New Children, His New Sons and Daughters in the
Resurrected Life of His Spirit-filled Christ.
The World of the Flesh, the World that is Separated from
God, wears us down and exhausts us with its Heavy Burdens.
Sins of Sensuality bring us Disease
and Addictions. Hatred, Envy,
Arrogance, and Elitism tear Nations apart in
Wars. Prejudice and Racism
tear Nations asunder internally and bring Exhausting Tensions between us as we attempt to live
together as One (1) Nation. Competitiveness,
Envy and Self-Centeredness cause us to be held captive in our
Business and Professional Careers at the Cost of taking us away from our
Spouses, Children, and Families.
We are Heavily Burdened by our Misdeeds.
The Weight of their Consequences is a Heavy Load indeed. Christ in
His Merciful Compassion knows that our Hearts are
Heavy. Sent by His Father to give us
Godís Forgiveness and Reconciliation,
Christ takes on Himself our Sins,
Suffers and Dies under their weight, and then give us
His Power to lift their Yoke from our Shoulders.
||"Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and
I will refresh you. Take My Yoke upon your Shoulders and learn from
Me, for I am gentle and humble of Heart. Your Souls will find rest,
for My Yoke is easy and My Burden light"
-Saint Matthew 11:28-29
To have those Loads lifted, we must be Humble.
Taking them away is something we cannot do by ourselves. As a matter of fact it is impossible for us to do it by ourselves. We must,
in the Simplicity of Children, Trust and Hope in what
Christ can do for us. We must take His
Yoke upon us and let Him join us in pulling our Loads
God Offers, we
Respond. If we Respond in Humble
Acceptance of what He wants to give us, no Load
will be too Heavy. Why? Because the Son of God
partners Himself with us. Yoked together, like Two (2) Oxen are
yoked, we can, with Christ at our side, pull any Load. No
Load that Life imposes on us can possibly be too Heavy
if we are joined with Christ. Every Heavy Load will
In a most Astounding and Astonishing way, God has Offered
His Power to us in the Life, Death,
and Resurrection of His Son, Jesus
Christ. The amazing thing is that so few have accepted Godís Offer. That is a great
Mystery to me; Godís Ways are indeed
Mysterious. But what is really Mysterious to me is the Rebellion
that lurks in our Hearts. One of Lifeís greatest Mysteries is our
Rejection of the Presence, Power, and Love of God that comes to us in
Have you known?:
Rejection? Jesus has.
Betrayal? Jesus has.
Loneliness? Jesus has.
Pain? Jesus has.
Have you been?:
Victimized? Jesus has.
the Butt of Jokes? Jesus has.
Abused? Jesus has.
Used and then Thrown away?
Why not let Him give you His Promise of Rest?
All of us are looking for Rest and Relief from what
Burdens down our Hearts and
Souls. None of us can escape lifeís Burdens, but all of us
can find Christís Loving Care and Concern.
What keeps us from experiencing the Rest and
Relief He can give us? What keeps us distant and apart from His
Love and His Power to help us? You just heard His Invitation
to you: I give praise to You, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, for although You have hidden these things from
the Wise and the Learned, You have revealed them to the Childlike Ö. Come to Me, all you who Labor and are Burdened, and I will give you
Rest. Take My Yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am Meek and Humble of Heart; and you will find Rest for your selves. For My Yoke is
easy, and My Burden light.
You and I should take His Promise seriously and accept