Monday, April 18, 2011

The Heart of the Matter

"If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:1 - 3).

To continue with my topic (don't worry, I won't bore you to sleep by talking about...) of the connection among our minds, bodies and souls, I thought a good place to start was with this famous passage from Paul's letter to the Corinthians. Oftentimes, our minds can work better when we've taken care of our bodies. But, without the concurrent development of our souls/spirits, we run the risk of being vain and/or arrogant. Become too healthy and vanity and pride can consume us. Become too intelligent and arrogance and superiority can overrun us.

To paraphrase St. Paul, "If I am beyond smart and know all there is to know about everything, but have not grown spiritually, I am just a bunch of hot air. Likewise, if I can bench press any object and move my body in any direction at any moment, but have not taken care of my spirit, than I am as useful as a solar powered flashlight."

Our spirit/soul/heart must be the starting point. It must be the focus. Start with the spiritual, or at least allow it to rule the other two aspects of our being, and our minds and bodies become tools, implements, instruments, weapons for the good and not our own selfish gain.

Not all are called to a cloistered life. Similarly, most of us are not mystics. Too much of an emphasis on the spiritual life can lead to zealous righteousness or contemplative bliss. While a lifestyle completely wrapped in prayer has its merit, most of us are called to live out our faith intelligently. In other words, we must act. We must act because of love. We must act out of love in effective, efficient, and intelligent ways.

Therefore, we must take care of the bodies given to us as spirit vessels. Likewise, we must develop our minds so that we can do the most good for the most possible. Finally, we must grow in faith so that we can come to understand God's will for us and carry it out to the best of our abilities.

All three parts working together. Dependent and reliant upon each other. Interconnected and intertwined. Inseparable.

Three parts in one person.

Made, intelligently and with great love, in the image and likeness of our Creator.