Thurs., March 24: “A perversion of desire”

by Sam Tallman

Lenten Devotional 2011Whenever Paul starts writing about sin, many people get squeamish, particularly if they have to read aloud some of his long lists of sins. It feels like there’s something of the Pharisee still lingering in his disposition, even though he preaches that the works of the Law cannot save us. Today’s passage from his letter to the Corinthians, however, opens new insight into his thoughts about sin to which we might give a contemporary understanding. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?” Sin can be seen as a perversion of the Holy Spirit within us from our baptism. In contemporary expression, sin is a perversion of desire, whether as misdirected desire or corrupt desire.

Today’s Gospel offers images of the kingdom of God as a lamp, or a sprouting seed, or the smallness of beginnings as with a mustard seed. Such is the Spirit of God implanted in our being, a being made in the image of God. In baptism, we name it the Holy Spirit and claim it as the grace of baptism. We could also call it the Spirit of holy desire.

What have been our deepest desires in life? Where have they led us in the past? Where are they leading us now? Is there a holy desire leading us to holiness of life and a love for the other?

Genesis 42:29-38
Psalms 70, 71, 74
1 Corinthians 6:12-30
Mark 4:21-34