Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Body: Temple of the Holy Spirit vs. The Norovirus

The survey reports that 935 students and 68 faculty members at St. Ignatius College Prep were infected with the Norovirus. This “group of viruses that cause the 'stomach flu' or gastroenteritis” prompted the school’s closure for three days.
I wanted to return to the classroom with a clever yet meaningful way to get students to discuss all that had happened during the past week. I wanted call attention to my increased appreciation and respect for the body—both as a survivor of this virulent airborne virus, but also as a spectator of athletic feats in Super Bowl XLII.

The first passage of scripture that came to mind are the words of St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians (6:19-20). Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.

Indeed the temple had been taken hostage for 48 hours by the Norovirus. In no way did I feel or believe that I was my own; I felt little control over my illness. I slept, waited and hoped in anticipation that my immune system would eventually triumph.
As the battle finally began to lean in my favor, I watched the New York Giants and New England Patriots, modern day gladiators wage their own warfare. However, these men, both healthy and strong were purchased at a price. A price that I think we need be critical of in our society. Still, I am sure they believe when they play, run, hit, tackle, pass and receive at the highest level they have a unique opportunity to glorify God in their body. This year's Super Bowl may not have revealed that in the way other games have, but Manningham's catch that put the G-men in the position to take the lead merits some consideration.

If there is one Super Bowl MVP who was able to glorify God in his body, it was without a doubt Jerry Rice. Jerry had such command of his temple that he once said he was at his best when he maintained a body fat of 8%. When he was at 9% body fat, he ran a little too slow; when he was at 7% he was just a little too lean. Recovery time for the Hall of Fame wide receiver took longer when he was at 7% body fat. Talk about precision and discipline!
While few of us need command of our body in the way a professional athlete does, ultimately St. Paul delivered a message we still need to hear today. Because we belong to God, we are holy and integral parts of the Body of Christ. His concept of responsibility to the Body includes taking care of our physical bodies and those of one another. Richard T. Ritenbaugh writes "Under the Old Covenant, God is mysterious and distant and dwelling in the Temple. Under the New Covenant, we become the Temple, and God becomes knowable and personal." It shouldn’t have to take the flu to remind me that the body is indeed sacred. We say “life is a gift!” quite often. In this past week, I am humbly reminded that so too, is good health.

Photo Credits

Jerry Rice
Manningham's Catch