In 1954 Flannery O'Connor published a short story titled "A Temple of the Holy Ghost" in which two 14-year old girls who attend a convent boarding school identify themselves as Temple One and Temple Two mocking the nun who repeatedly reminds them they are temples of the Holy Ghost. On a weekend visit with a distant cousin, the two girls attend a fair at which they see a hermaphrodite in a freak show. The hermaphrodite keeps repeating to the crowd that "God done this to me and I praise Him. He could strike you thisaway." Later it is the cousin who is most affected by this and who has a vision of the sun as "an elevated Host drenched in blood .. "
The two girls live in their own world until, for the sake of adventure, they go to see this freak show, something that is totally other than their 'teeny-bopper' selves.
The first reading for the second Sunday in Ordinary Time reveals the boy Samuel living in his own world. He is to be trained by his mentor Eli. Samuel is a boy who likes his sleep. Three times he is awakened by a voice and each time he believes it is Eli calling him. The third time Eli recognizes that God is calling the boy and he tells Samuel when he hears the voice again to reply, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." Samuel lived in his own world and could not recognize God's call to him. He did not know he was a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Two disciples of John the Baptist in the Gospel today are told Jesus is the lamb of God. They immediately follow Jesus and one of them, Andrew, takes the news to his own brother Peter. These men all lived in their own worlds until they saw or heard Jesus calling them. What attracted them to Jesus? Scripture is never full of detail. We only receive basic information. Whatever it is, Jesus pulls them out of their own worlds and invites them into his world. He invites them to something new and different. Andrew and Peter are called in their own bodies to become temples of the Holy Spirit, to glorify God in their bodies now by following Jesus and living in a new way.
During his recent trip to the Philippines, Pope Francis identified three challenges for young people to the religious leaders of the University of Santo Tomas. One is integrity. He told them that learning to love was their greatest challenge and that in doing so they must maintain their own integrity. Learn to love and be loved. Secondly, he said, it is important to care for the environment. Thirdly, we must care for the poor.
Recent weeks have shown us so much violence in our world. Fear is corrupting each of us. As followers of Christ, we cannot allow ourselves ro be governed by fear. We are temples of the Holy Spirit and recognize that there is more to this life than what we find on any of our electronic devices, including television or the movies. Pope Francis also reminded us that we are accountable to Christ for our speech and our action.
We glorify God in our bodies and become temples of the Holy Spirit when we leave our own worlds and move out to follow Jesus, when we listen to his call to us, when we say yes to the one who calls us to live his life. Scripture readings in the liturgy this past week have shown us Jesus moving forward, moving beyond his own world, beyond his home at Nazareth. He cures and heals and he goes to pray. But then he moves on. Crowds want him to stay and get comfortable with him but Jesus must reach others. He must move on. He is not his own. Neither are we.