Feed Your Soul

Antonio P. Pueyo
June 19 2005
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reproduced with Permission

I have yet to see a sign that says, "Soul for sale." Selling one's soul to the devil is a theme that appears in the literature of different countries. The way the story goes, a man would be so desperate to achieve whatever he desires that he makes a pact with the devil. In exchange for youth, beauty, fame, and fortune, he agrees to a contract whereby after a certain number of years, the devil gets his soul. He enjoys all the pleasures the world has to offer. When the devil finally comes to collect his soul the man realizes the enormity of his mistake and tries to get out of the contract. The story ends with either the devil winning or by some intervention the man is snatched from his clutches and is saved.

In this Sunday's Gospel Jesus warns us about losing our soul, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna (Mt. 10:28)." Death is inevitable but a fate worse than death is to lose one's soul.

But what is the soul? Is there an immortal soul?

We do not see the soul but we know when it is missing. We have expressions like, "Your performance lacks soul." Or we describe a person who has lost his zest for living as one whose soul has gone out of him. We even describe a stale bottle of wine as one without soul. Soul music is rightly sung with passion. Sometimes we use the word spirit, such as a spirited horse or a spirited dancer.

These examples taken from everyday language show that the word soul is associated with the quality of being dynamic and being alive. In Greek philosophy the soul is the "vital principle". It is that which gives life. A dried flower has no soul. A dead frog has no soul. However, there is more to being alive than just being "not dead". Being alive means exercising one's capacities to the fullest. Being alive means bubbling over with enthusiasm. Being alive means using one's gifts and endowments as God designed them to be used, thus, pleasing God. It is for this reason that St. Irenaeus talks of the glory of God as the human being fully alive.

A person with soul is one who fulfills the purpose for which God made him, within the parameters of his endowments and capacities. A baby who cannot do much glorifies God. One may be alive and may even be enthusiastic for life but if that life does not glorify God and is not according to God's design then that person is losing his soul. Losing one's soul is losing one's Godly direction in life. It also means not hitting the mark that is eternal life. It means missing God.

In the depths of our being, our longings are for eternity. We make promises to love forever. Our desires seem to be insatiable. Our thoughts have no boundaries. In these tendencies to look beyond time and the here and now, we see the road signs to eternity. Something in us makes us long for eternity. It is our soul. Its home is in the heart of God. As St. Augustine said, "You have made us for yourself O Lord and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

The soul also needs food. Its nourishment is spiritual. It thrives in an environment of charitable words, noble thoughts, loving action, and right values. Its bread is the Word of life. We feed our soul when we read an inspiring book, are in awe over the beauty of nature, listen to soothing music, engage in good conversations, and connect with God in prayer.

Take good care of your soul. It makes you alive.

Action starter: With what do I feed my soul? Is it well-fed or undernourished?