Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Body, Soul, and Spirit

Wednesday: 14 January, 2015 –– First Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 2:14–18 / Mark 1:29–39
Body, Soul, and Spirit

What’s the big deal in Hebrews that Jesus was made like us and not like the angels?

Well, God made humans to be body, soul, and spirit. All three are necessary for us to be complete. On the other hand, angels are ministering spirits. Angels can assume a form when it’s important for humans to see them (Gabriel with Mary, the angels with the shepherds, etc.), but by nature angels are spirits.

Being fully human means living with body, soul, and spirit the way God intended. Sin has messed that up. Our “natural” tendency now is to give our bodies a far greater priority than our spirits. We feel it when we are hungry. We know it when we are uncomfortable (and others around us usually do, too). On the other hand, a person can be starving spiritually and be mostly unaware. It takes a finely tuned human spirit to be sensitive to a harmful environment. Too few people seem to feel pain and turn away with remorse and disgust when, for example, something on TV is immoral or totally demeaning.

A repercussion of this is the penalty of death: the separation of body from spirit. When we die, our bodies go into the ground to await the general resurrection at the time of the Great Consummation; our spirits are conscious and aware of our ultimate destiny ––with or separated from the Lord (e.g., St Paul in 2Cor 5:1–4 and Phlp 1:20b–23). This is a time of being unfulfilled (think of those with the Lord around the throne waiting for the full salvation of bodily resurrection––Revelation 6:9,10).

The writer to the Hebrews is saying that Jesus became like us––body, soul, and spirit––so he could give us a full salvation. His coming was not like that of an angel, nor for angels. This is modeled on several levels in today’s Gospel.

Jesus is healing bodies (because the human body is important). Jesus is delivering people from spiritual oppression (because evil can make us sick and destroy us).

Jesus also goes away alone to pray. In the popular days of his early ministry––with all his approval and the display of mighty words and mighty deeds––Jesus took the time to stay close to the Father. Jesus modeled a right ordering of body, soul, and spirit.

Our bodies are important, but the one we have now will not last forever. We wait in hope for a resurrection. Our spirits are even more important, because the person we are at core in our spirit determines the existence we will have forever.

Body, soul, and spirit…. Let’s be people who follow Jesus and nurture the healing of our spirits.

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