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Spiritual Fullness

May 12, 2013

6th Sunday after Easter

Sunday Exaudi (HeaThe waiting congregationr me)

 

“If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live”.

John 14:15-19

 

Jesus was definitely ready to leave His physical form. Last Thursday, the church recalled the day of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, which originally happened forty days after Easter. This conversation from the Gospel takes place before the ascension.

 

Jesus said that he will not leave them as orphans. How painful it is when a loved one is out of sight. The first feeling that comes is a great feeling of emptiness. It is a spiritual feeling of something missing inside of us; a void that cannot be filled or comforted with anything. Only time heals wounds and allows us to fill the void with other things. These things can be good or bad. The same happened with the disciples. Jesus was more to them than a loved one. They loved him even more because He was their Lord and their God. There was no blood relationship, but rather an emotional and spiritual relationship which surpassed any family tie. A loved one’s death and the emptiness which comes from it can be mostly overcome, although of course with marked scarring. But it will be overcome; we must go on living, eating, moving, working and breathing. And so life goes on and the years alleviate the great suffering. Over time, the pain becomes strong memories. There are people who do not recover from a loved one’s death because they have no comfort and, unfortunately, this can eventually sicken them or simply keep them from living a life in full health.

 

On this day I want to talk about that feeling of emptiness that many people feel in their lives. But not only that feeling of emptiness we experience with great intensity when we lose a loved one, but also and more specifically, that steady gradual, relentless feeling of emptiness that we experience throughout our lives. There are people who have not yet found how to fill that void in their lives with something meaningful and comforting. There are people who feel empty and discomforted even with all the material possessions that life could give them. There are people who do not find meaning in their lives despite possessing all of the material goods life offers. Do you know why this is so? It is because these people did not meet their spiritual needs. They think that they can fill that great void or spiritual need with material things like money, pleasures, excitement, extreme sports, drugs, alcohol or food in excess. And some of them may even find reasons for wanting to fulfill that spiritual need through other religions or sects that promise to fulfill them but are ultimately not oriented to God but rather to the evil one and, in the end, are harmful to people.

 

Any non-Christian may say: Why do you think that their problems are of a spiritual nature? I do not believe that there is such a thing as a spirit within the person or a spiritual realm. And this belief of theirs happens because they don’t believe in God and do not believe in the Bible as the word of God, where we are told that man is also spirit. In Genesis, we are told that when God created man materially, He also placed a spirit of His own: “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). The breath of life is nothing other than the spirit. It is in this sense, more than any other, that we look like God, when the Bible says we were created in the image and in likeness of God (Gen 1:26). Like God, we have our own spirit too. But the spirit of God is the one we call the Holy Spirit, which is written in uppercase. We must remember that when we speak of the Spirit or the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of God, we are referring specifically to God Himself, for God is also Spirit.

What is the spirit? If we seek a definition which refers mainly to humans, we can find one in the dictionary: it is an immaterial being endowed with reason. It is also called the rational soul; that is what we ultimately are. At the moment, we are thinking and feeling, we are alive, living in a body that is also alive, but at the moment the spirit leaves the body, the body dies because it depends on the spirit to live. When we die, the spirit does not die; it is our being with our thoughts and feelings. The person dies; what dies is the body. The Bible does not give details of what happens to the spirit in the immediate moment of death. It does not tell us exactly where our spirit or our being goes. However, we do know through many biblical quotations that at the precise moment of death the spirit is at God’s disposal. The Bible tells us more clearly what will happen at the end of the times on Judgment Day. As we oft repeat in the Creed about Jesus: He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

 

The important thing that we, as Christians, have to remember is that we, as individuals, have a body and a spirit. While it is important to take care of our body’s health and to try to care for our physical life through many things such as going to the doctor, taking vitamins and medications, eating well and evenly, exercising, taking care to not wear out the body or to have it suffer pointlessly and thus potentially weaken and become sick, so we must also learn to care for the health of our spirit too.

It is important to take care of the health of our spirit because the spirit is in overall control of our physical body. If the spirit is not well, the body begins to break down, for it is the spirit which holds and commands the body. The ancient Romans had a well known saying: “Mens sana in corpore sano”. (A healthy mind in a healthy body) Its original meaning is that there is a need to pray to have a balanced spirit in a balanced body. It is not the same meaning as the way it is generally translated today: “healthy mind in a healthy body.” Yet this civilization, without being Christians, still understood something about this supposed secret of health for both parts of the human being. This trait can also be seen in many other pagan religions of the world, where in one form or another, they came to perceive the existence of a spirit within the body. From the Christian point of view, we can say that if you have a healthy spirit you will also have a healthy body.

However, this is not the most important thing of which I would like to preach today.

 

The most important message for this Sunday, after we shared the reading, is that we must have a full understanding that we have a spirit and a body, and that this spirit must be fed. Not only to enjoy a healthier life physically, but also to live a life of abundance with God fulfilling His promises and giving us the life that He wants us to live. God wants us to have life, and have it in its fullest (Jn 10:10). At the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and acknowledge Him as the Son of God, the promise of eternal life begins to be fulfilled in our lives. But we must also live with our spirit in a body. We call that life: life on earth. When this spirit is connected with God, that spirit is being fed.

 

We have to feed our spirits. But how can we feed, nourish and take care of our spirits? We nourish our spirit through daily prayer to God, daily conversation with our Father, through daily confession of our sins to God and through daily reading of the Word of God. Just as we need to eat food every day, we also need to feed ourselves daily with the word of God. Also, participating in the service every Sunday, hearing the word of God, praising God with other brothers and sisters and sharing in the Lord’s Supper is nothing other than spiritual food par excellence.

 

I heard that there are many people who, because of the desire to lose weight at all costs, stop eating. They purposefully deprive themselves of food. And eventually they fall into a disease called anorexia nervosa. Anorexia is the refusal of food by a person and obsessive fear of gaining weight, which can lead to a state of starvation. Over time, these people do not feel hungry for food, which, logically, is something abnormal. In the same way, a Christian who does not see the need to eat spiritually can get a kind of spiritual anorexia. It is a spiritual disease that can have tragic consequences for the individual. We must not neglect our spiritual food.

 

And here I return to the beginning. There are many people, even many who call themselves Christians, who live a kind of spiritual anorexia. They say they do not need God and thus do not seek the things of God. They do not read the Bible, participate in the church, take Holy Communion or pray daily. That’s not normal for a Christian life. Our spirit may be endangered. And the consequences are not only the danger of getting sick physically, but daily anguish, the feeling of emptiness and the feeling of meaninglessness in life. And even worse, eternal perdition.

 

This is why Jesus sent His Spirit when He left. That Spirit that satisfies the soul and gives salvation is available to everyone today. Hurry up to not only improve your life in every way in this earthly realm, but to also receive eternal life.

Lord Grant us the blessing of your Spirit, and above all, that we do whatever humanly possible to feed our spirits. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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