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The Spiritual Life: The Offering of the Body
In Saint Paul's exhortation to the Romans, we read: "offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age . . . ." (Rom 12:1-2). To some, this may sound contradictory: "offer you bodies as . . . your spiritual worship." To those who think that the material and the spiritual are not only separate but completely separated categories, Saint Paul's exhortation makes no sense. There are philosophies that presume the material and the spiritual (if there even is a spiritual reality) are completely separate. And there are religions that propose the material (if there even is a material reality) and the spiritual are completely separate categories. But Christianity is not one of those, neither philosophically nor religiously. Christianity believes in the Incarnation: that God, who is spirit (Jn 4:24), united himself to a material body: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth . . . . [Jn 1:1, 14. emphasis added] In the Person of Jesus Christ above all, the spiritual and the material are united. And each human person, made in the image and likeness of God, is also a union of the spiritual and the material. And so, if we "offer [our] bodies as a living sacrifice . . . to God", we indeed are worshipping spiritually. To do this, we must "not conform [our]selves to this age", Saint Paul goes on to exhort. That was true in his day, and it is true in ours.