Week XXIX: Wednesday

“Therefore, sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires.” (Romans 6:12.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“The apostle declares that all sins are works of the flesh. Now if it were not in our power that sin should not reign in us, he would not have given us this command. How then is it possible that sin should not reign in our flesh? It is possible if we do what the apostle says — “Put to death what is earthly in you” — and if we always carry around in our body the death of Christ. For it is certain that where the death of Christ is carried around sin cannot reign. For the power of the cross of Christ is such that if it is placed before our eyes and kept faithfully in mind in such a way that the eye of the mind may keep its gaze fixed on the death of Christ, no lust, no desire, no passion and no envy will be able to overcome it. At its presence the whole host of sin and the flesh will always flee.

Why does Paul add that the body is “mortal,” when this seems to be obvious? Perhaps, but I think there is a reason for this addition. For Paul was showing by this how it is possible for sin not to reign in our bodies. If we realize that our body can be put to death and be dead to sin, it may happen that sin will not reign in it. Insofar as it is dead, it is said to be justified from sin. Nor does a dead man lust or get angry or have passions or steal what is not his. Therefore, if we suppress all these desires in our bodies they may be said to be dead to sin. This is what the apostle appears to be telling us by adding the adjective mortal in this context.” (Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans)

Almighty ever-living God,
grant that we may always conform our will to Yours
and serve Your majesty in sincerity of heart.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen