We are God’s workmanship as a we and not alone, never alone, because we are God’s own.
The deepest truth in this passage is not what we should not do to our bodies. Our pastor pointed out that sometimes this passage is used to forbid assorted things (tattoos! smoking!), with the focus on the individual.* Instead, the great, good hope is that we are, each individual one of us, part of the great temple of God. We are God’s own and Father God will keep us in safety and His Spirit will indwell us.
We are a temple, the visible Bride of Christ.
After a hard year, one that felt like it should be counted like dog years, aging us seven for every one, we were reminded of unction, the balm for the healing of our soul and body. Holy oil can be applied to our head and hands as an outer sign of the balm that the Holy Spirit would apply to our hearts. Our minds need Wisdom’s voice, our hands power to do good to others, our hearts healing to beat true. The Unction, the Balm, is a promise that God will restore His temple.
There is hope, because this balm is not merely a sweet smell, though oil is sweet! The balm is a medicine for healing. Too late for a vaccine against sin, we need good internal medicine. The beauty of Divine Unction is that the medicine is sweet and the cure sure. This can hurt as healing often does, our hurting hearts need new healthy tissue. As the fetus can provide healing to the heart of the mother in natural pregnancy, so when conceived within us, the Holy Spirit can heal our broken hearts.
Again, we do not have to experience this healing alone, in isolation, but as the members of one body, we bear one another’s burdens. We never need to bear the burden of healing alone because the saints pray for us and stand with us. We are part of a living temple that includes the Mother of God, the Apostles, the martyrs, the great saints of all ages. Some particular group may fail us, but there are tens of millions of faithful fully healed in paradise standing with us. As the balm, the Spirit is applied, they are in solidarity with us.
We are never alone or forgotten. There can never be just one of us, because so many of us have already gone to safety: home, healed.
The healthy have no need for healing. We need healing, but the healing is for a purpose: health. We will not always be as we are. The great Day is coming when even death will be defeated. The balm will continue as a sweet perfume in the temple.
O balm for our souls!
*I am thankful to Father James of Saint George Orthodox (Houston) for getting me thinking and praying on this theme. Any mistakes are my own!