Improving our spiritual health

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If I were to count the repetitive words in the Bible, the one word that I’m sure would dominate all others is LOVE. In the second reading for today, we read “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” In today’s gospel, Jesus’ deep love for his followers is reflected in his prayer to his Father. After 3 years of teaching and leading them, he was about to leave them to go to his Father, and he knew their human frailty as well as the trials they would face and so he prayed from his heart for them. The words that I sensed most deeply were: “Father, I do not ask you to take them out of this world, but to protect them against the evil one.” “They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” In other words, Jesus knew his followers would have to live in this world, but not to be of this world. And isn’t that what Jesus prayed for all his followers down through the ages; and isn’t that a monumental task in this fast paced, microwave world we live in, with all its technological attractions? Jesus knew that if his followers both then and now, were to take their eyes off their heavenly goal, they could easily be distracted by the world and all its empty promises. Jesus knew why we were created. He knew we were created to love and to be loved and that all creatures taken together could not take the place God who is love itself. As followers of Jesus, we should know that God is our ultimate goal, in whatever we undertake, if we take God into account first, then we can live in this world and not be of it. It is when we take our eyes off our heavenly goal that we stumble, make impulsive decisions and allow the busy everyday world to swallow us up. It is also then that we fall victim to the evil one (temptation.)

Nearly every day, we can turn on the T-V, read articles in magazines or on the internet which focus our attention on eating right and exercising to keep our bodies fit for a long and healthy life. How often do we hear about feeding our souls and how often do we hear or read about the benefits of spending 30 minutes each day in prayer for our spiritual health? Prayer can be as simple as talking to Jesus as we drive to work, as though he were sitting beside us, finding a quiet place to spend a few minutes loving him and listening to him in the silence of our heart or my favorite, listening to a beautiful song of praise. One of my favorite songs of prayer is sung by Josh Groban and Celine Dion. “The Prayer” is a song that seems to echo back to Jesus a response to the prayer he prayed to his Father on behalf of all his followers including us. The lyrics:

“I pray you’ll be our eyes” “And watch us where we go” “And help us to be wise”
“In times when we don’t know” “Let this be our prayer” “When we lose our way”
“Lead us to a place” “Guide us with your grace” “To a place where we’ll be safe.”

Granted, physical exercise is of great importance. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and when we are physically fit, we are better able to serve one another, for we are the hands and feet of Jesus in our world. But, though there are many, many demands on our time in this modern age which we live in, one truth remains; death holds domain over our body, but not our spirit. Let each of us spend time with Jesus each day, put him first in our lives, and remember our ultimate goal is to spend eternity in his love.

Sylvia Bates