Mind Your Body

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We would suggest you take some extra care  about  your body  these days. Physical fitness is one thing  that  helps a  person the  most in sustaining a  healthy  mind  within  the  body. A healthy body  that is  host to   a healthy mind  will  give us  more  flexibility  in  making  decisions that  are going to  affect our body, mind and  of course soul.

It follows that the  integrity of our  body cannot be  a subject  of  debate. Nor  can it be  compromised ever. There is  no middle path. Either you give   due respect to your body or you leave it to its  fate.

You might be surprised to  see a write up about  physical  fitness  in a  platform like  V-Catholic  which is  dedicated to matters on the  other side of the  spectrum. Our  concern has been, and still is, the  spiritual  well-being  of each one of us. Yet we need to  think about the   body. And the  need to  do it  is  all the more   compelling  nowadays.

To start with,  let us  see what  our  Divine Master has  taught  us about  the body and  the  soul  that is caged inside the body.  It  happened  in  the garden of Gethsemane, the place where  Jesus  faced the most  crucial and decisive battle between flesh and  spirit. His  human instinct tempted him to  run away from the  impending  persecution and  the crucifixion that  should  follow it. The depth of agony and  anguish that  Jesus  experienced in Gethsemane could be gauged  from his own words. ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death’ (Mt 26:38). Jesus wished for the  cup of suffering to pass from him, if it was  possible. Such was the  intensity of the attack that   the  flesh  mounted upon the  spirit of   Jesus in his final hours. He came out  victorious  from this battle  by placing  the  will of  his  Father above  his own will.  ‘Yet  not what I want but what  you want’ (Mt 26:39).

But his  disciples were  not  so lucky. They  quickly  surrendered  to one of the   primal instincts of   flesh; to sleep and   to have rest. It was  late  into the  night and they badly needed  some rest. Unlike Jesus, it was  not the  last day in their life.  They needed rest  to refresh their bodies for  the  next day’s work. In spite of their  master’s  appeal to  stay  awake and  pray  with  him for  an hour, their flesh decided   the  other way.  Appeasing the  body was  more  compelling than pleasing the  Lord.  Afterall, sleeping in the night was not a sin and  giving  rest to  the  body was something   commanded by God!

It was in this  background   that Jesus made a statement that is more  pertinent now than that fateful night  in Gethsemane.  ‘The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’ (Mt 26:41). For a soul that is ever willing to fulfill the will of   its Creator,  the  short period of time it is   assigned  to be   within a human body is no doubt a  trying   time.  As we know, the  flesh is  corruptible, whereas the  spirit is incorruptible and   eternal. Human  history is the  history of  this corruptible flesh  trying to  subdue and enslave the immortal spirit.

Our ultimate destiny  depends on  what we do in our flesh.  Sin is the ultimate evil that  can lead our  souls to the wrong  place from where no return is possible. But sin needs a medium – flesh – to corrupt the  soul.  Eve, and  through her Adam sinned against God by eating the  fruit of the  forbidden  tree. Their action was never a spiritual  one per se, because eating and  drinking are not  matters  connected with  the spirit.  The food   that we eat never enters our  heart (inner being), so says  our Lord.  Then  why should we bother about  something that  we  voluntarily receive  into our body, be it food or something else?

We need to go a little  back in   history and  rewind  the   incidents  that occurred in  another garden, this time in  Eden.  Adam and Eve were thrown out of  this place of  perfect bliss, solely for the  reason that   they ate the forbidden fruit. Their mistake was that  they ate not any  fruit, but the  one  that was  specifically prohibited  for them.

Paul the Apostle warns us; ‘ All things are lawful. But  not all things are beneficial’ (1 Cor 10:23). This prompts us to think  about  another  dimension of our  body.  Our body is the  interface between the soul and the  outside world. Whatever we receive from this world is through  the body and its senses. We feel hot or cold, we feel energetic or  exhausted, we feel hungry or satisfied, we feel calm or  excited, the cause lies in the inputs that we receive through our body. Discernment is  required here  to  distinguish  between what is good  for us  and what is bad. If we  receive something that is  harmful   to us,  we cannot  escape  from  its consequences later.

This is  not limited to  food alone. We should  apply our  discernment  in respect  of  everything  that  we receive into our  body. It can be  visuals, sounds, medicines, radiation or anything  that  is capable of tilting the balance of  our mind and thereby impacting  our capacity to  take   the right decision at  the right time. To use a  simple example, one who consumes alcohol will be  under its  influence for  some time and  during  this  period he may often fail to  see the line that  separates good from evil. If you listen to music with obscene  or profane  content, your mind will be  corrupted to  that extent. If you eat certain kinds of  food, your body  will immediately  start to  respond in repulsion. Even a single dose of  a psychoactive drug can create   catastrophic consequences.

If a single dose of substance can  harm your body, corrupt your mind, and make you an addict, then imagine  how pathetic  the ultimate situation of  a person who  goes for   its repeated  doses will be.

Those addicted to drugs  claim that  they  get a kind of  good  feeling when they use it.  Eve also should have been  enthusiastic about   the   ‘good results’ that  she  expected to  flow from  consuming the fruit that was ‘a delight to her eyes and was to be   desired to make her wise’.  But  contrary to  her  understanding,  it was  a sugar coated poison. Unfortunately Adam and Eve could not recognize  the  snare hidden behind the offer, even though  they were living in the presence of the Lord.

Then think of us who in our folly  boasts that we are  well informed and  we are  capable of making  the  best decision for  our  well being.  Nothing  is  far from the truth. The fact is that many things that we deem to be good or beneficial are in fact  simple concoctions of  poison and  lies  mixed in  equal parts and  originated from the author of all lies.  We,  the  gullible Adams and Eves of  this modern era, think that  what he serves to  us  in a platter with  so many  sweet side dishes is truly the  panacea for  all our  infections and  inflictions. He is  an expert in marketing and we should  never think that   he will tell us  about its side effects.  Wisdom calls for  recognizing  the motive of those who will  leave no stone unturned to   ensure that  their victims are  fed with the right mix of  poison so that  they are  condemned to  suffer in flesh for now and forever.

Mind your body. It is  your own.   Mind what is  being  received into your body, be it food, drinks or anything else. You should be  careful even for  a  prick on your  skin because it can  influence your body, mind and soul. Mind your body because at stake is  your salvation.

Think not  twice, but a thousand times before giving up the  control over your body to someone else.  If the  devil could  inject the  poison of  false promises into the mind of Eve  and persuade  her to  permit  her body to be  contaminated with something that God never wished, remember that  the same devil  is  more active  today. Peter, the first Pope was  referring to this enemy  when he wrote these lines. ‘Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour’ (1 Pet 5:8).

We need grace and  wisdom in  abundant measures to  resist him. Our  minds should  be  as sharp as a needle these days, because our adversary has devised novel methods to  penetrate our body and mind.   A small prick is  sufficient for him to  inject you with the venom that  will last forever. We need to be  more  vigilant  than ever. Needless to say,  going  through the  eye of the needle  is no easy task.  Neither will its tip help you enter the  kingdom of  God.

Let us pray to  the Almighty God to  sustain us with  His  grace and  give us  prudence and wisdom so that we may come out  triumphant at the  end of  the  final persecution reserved  for  those ‘who keep the commandments of  God and hold the testimony of Jesus’ ( Rev 12:17).

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