Flesh, According to St Paul

calumny.jpg (136349 bytes)
Calumny (Slander) - by BOTTICELLI, Sandro - from Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence . . . . . (Click painting to enlarge)

In this painting there is a representation of King Midas (bad Judge), with ass's ears, listening to the False Words of Ignorance and Suspicion. In front of them, standing, is Malice (hooded man) who holds Calumny by the wrist. Calumny is dragging the slandered Innocence by the hair while Envy and Deceit (Fraud) comb her hair with ribbons and flowers.  Behind this group is the hooded figure of Remorse (Penitence), who turns to look at the naked figure of Truth. Truth, like Innocence , is naked as she has nothing to conceal.

 

Saint Paul uses the word Flesh to speak of Human Frailty,
a concept that goes far beyond that which is merely Sensual

 

  Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30

 

Romans 8:9, 11-13
9-But you are not in the Flesh; on the contrary, you are in the Spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.
 
11-If the Spirit of the One Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One Who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit that dwells in you.
 
12-Consequently, brothers, we are not debtors to the Flesh, to live according to the Flesh.
 
13-For if you live according to the Flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 

Flesh, According to St Paul

by Father Charles Irvin, M.Div, J.D. 

Flesh Body

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 ďBodySaint 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 through Life.

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 become Light.

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 Jesus Christ.

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? Jesus has.

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 His Offer.