We never think of it, I’m fairly certain, but after receiving Holy Communion we are walking tabernacles. Yes, the species of bread and wine are digested in about 15 minutes, meaning that the real physical presence of Christ are no longer in us but we consume Christ so that Christ can consume us (sorry, can’t remember who first said that) and live in us through the Grace of the Holy Spirit. However, that Grace enlivens us only as much as our free will allows for God does not force Himself on us or treat us as puppets. That being said, if we could only remember, moment to moment in our daily lives, that we are like walking tabernacles, carrying the Spirit of Christ within us, then we might act differently, moment to moment, accordingly instead of responding, in word or action, in ways that are more instinctive than thoughtful. Virtuous words and actions do not come naturally but spring from the Grace of God within us.
The old laws to which Jesus refers in today’s Gospel were established by God to set limits on the violence of retribution inherent in a primitive society. The victim of a violent act was allowed a payback but without any sense of order or justice in these tribal cultures, the payback could be worse than the original act of violence. God brought order into the culture of His Chosen People so they would survive and prosper.
Jesus now establishes a new norm, not one of retribution but one of forgiveness. He brings God’s Love and Mercy into the everyday life of our human condition. A neighbor in the old law was a fellow Jew but Jesus expands it to include all of our fellow citizens of the world. He teaches us to be like God in all our activity – even the most miniscule – of our daily lives.
Paul suffered and was nearly beaten to death more than once in his years of preaching the Gospel. He knew what it meant to live his own words: Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?