The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

25th Week in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Tue, 09/26/2017
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

Most people would agree:  life is more than involuntary biological functioning.
Life is more than breathing, eating, sleeping, growing, working, reproducing, and evolving.
 
I am cautious, however, when I say “we are more than our biology”.
We do have the power to override our instincts,
to choose what is above and/or beyond what is considered to be natural.
But this power, which operates in cooperation with human awareness, consciousness,
free will, reason and intellect, is only available to us because of our biological state.
 
We have a brain, which is a biological component that gives us capacities
that no other living creature has.
And there is a direct correlation between the biological functioning of the human brain
and the human experience of consciousness, awareness, free will, reason and intellect.
When the brain suffers physical damage,
our consciousness, awareness, free will, reason and intellect are altered in some way.
These experiences become diminished.
Similarly, if something should cause the human brain to slow down or even stop its growth
a person’s consciousness, awareness, free will, reason and intellect become limited accordingly.
 
There is one thing I have yet to mention:  the soul.
A central tenant of Christianity is that we have a soul,
a spiritual component of human life that does not cease existing when our physical bodies do.
Our soul is part of God’s creation.  We exist because God willed our existence.
It is our Catholic belief that both our physical being and our spiritual being
are created at the same time:  at conception.
Likewise, and this is something we seldom consider, it is our Catholic belief that
both our physical being and spiritual being are redeemed, are saved, at the same time.
This occurs when God’s promise is fulfilled and we, like Jesus Christ, are raised from the dead.
Redemption and salvation of body and soul occur through transformation.
A metamorphosis takes place through which body and soul are permanently changed
into something that is worthy of existing in the glory of God forever.
 
One conclusion to be made according to this understanding of body and soul
is that our soul exists before our bodies have the capacity for consciousness, awareness,
free will, reason and intellect.
Somehow our soul affects the development of these human experiences.
(I didn’t say determines.  Our unique personal history also affects their development.)
 
Also, what happens to our soul affects the entirety of our human experience.
This cannot be said of our consciousness or awareness, per se.
What happens in our consciousness doesn’t necessarily affect our other human experiences.
It doesn’t necessarily affect the state of our soul.
Someone who loses consciousness does not lose part of their soul.
 
As it is today, in Jesus’ time, biological relationships came with responsibilities and duties
but also with rights and privileges.
When Mary, Jesus’ mother, and his brothers come to visit him
it was a natural social expectation that they would have the privilege of receiving Jesus’ attention,
of being physically close to him….they would get to sit next to him.
They would benefit from Jesus’ power before others would.
Others would surrender their place so that these things could happen.
 
Jesus responds to the situation by speaking words of adoption to his disciples.
“All those who hear my word and act upon it, I claim as members of my family.”
Christian rights and privileges are not granted because of birth, because of gender,
because of office, or because of ritual precision and purity.
Christian rights and privileges are granted to those
who repent of their sin, who answer the call to undergo conversion of mind and heart,
who make the mission of Jesus Christ their own,
those who set aside and/or sacrifice the things of this world for the good of the Kingdom of God.
Christian rights and privileges are granted to those who….
feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless,
visit the sick, ransom the captive, and bury the dead.
Hearing God’s word and acting upon it are the soul of a Christian life.
 
Even though it is impossible to be a soulless human being,
it is possible to claim the name of Christian but not have a Christian soul.
 
Today’s prayer:  “O Lord, God of the universe, You remain a mystery beyond our human understanding.  It is apparent that, being created by You, our life in this world is also a mystery.  Help us to hear Your word and to base our activity upon it.  Help us to spend the time You give us to promote the coming of Your Kingdom.  Amen!”