Adults- Worth of Your Soul

   You don’t have to be part of Weight Watchers to watch your weight. For some of us this might be a daily routine, to step on a scale. Many of today’s scales are electronic with a digital readout, but the older model scales still exist. They have little weights to slide from side to side to determine one’s weight. These are called counterbalance weights. The key word here is balance and it hearkens back to the original scales of antiquity used to determine not just weight but worth. If you were trading goods, jewels or precious metals, weight scales would determine equity and fairness.

   These scales were common in Old Testament time.

11Honest weights and scales are the LORD'S; All the weights in the bag are His work. (Proverbs 16:11)

6Let me be weighed on honest scales, That God may know my integrity. (Job 31:6)

35'You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. 36You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. (Leviticus 19:35-36),-Laws

   In today’s Gospel reading (Mark 8:34 – 9:1), from the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Precious Cross, implicitly refers to an equitable trade, balancing on a scale of exchange.

     34When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

   Fr. Anthony Coniaris- “What Shall it Profit a Man…?” (Gems from Sunday Gospels vol.2, p.12- ) says, “If you place the whole world on one side of a scale, and then put one single human soul on the other side, the soul would far outweigh the universe.” That is how much your soul, my soul, and every single human being that has ever lived, is worth.

   What is the soul? It is not part of the body but the body houses the soul. Jesus tells His disciples, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Mt.10:28). The soul is the real you! It is the part of us that is spiritual (bodiless) and thus not subject to physical death. It is the part of you that hopes, aspires, prays, suffers, loves, is tempted, sins, repents and can be saved. If you take away the soul, the spirit, from a person, all that is left is water, bone, tissue and a few chemicals. But add the soul to this mixture and a human becomes worth more than the entire universe. The soul is what makes human beings unique in the material creation. On all creatures, only mankind has a soul. Thus, human beings are both physical and spiritual in nature. We are the bridge between the created world and the God the Creator.

   The greatness of the soul is based on three things: 1) it is created in the image of the eternal God (Gen.1:26); 2) the price paid for its redemption was the precious blood of the Son of God, Jesus; 3) it is eternal and will outlast everything in the universe, even the universe itself. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).

   The soul is the center of our very being. If you want to catch or control a swarm of bees, you first must capture the queen bee, then all the other bees will follow. The queen of or being is our soul. Catch a person’s soul and you have all his instincts, desires, thoughts and emotions because they all obey the soul. Plato said, “If head and body are to be well, we must begin by curing the soul.”

   There was a king who had 365 wives, one for each day of the year in his harem. One day he visited a monastery and there he met a monk. The king looked at him with great compassion and said, “What a great sacrifice you are making to live such a simple, basic life.” However, the monk objected saying, “Your sacrifice is greater!”. The king was puzzled and asked, “How is that?” The monk replied, “Because I have renounced that which passes while you have renounced the eternal.”

   No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Mt.6:24; Lk.16:13)

   A good question to ask about anything in life is, “How long will it last? For a moment, for a day, for a month, for a year, for a lifetime, or forever? God is forever, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). So is faith, so is love, so is the soul.

To gain the whole world and lose one’s soul is the world’s worst bargain says Jesus. What does “the world” mean? For some it is profit, for others success, for others fame, for others pleasure, etc. However, even if someone has the whole world, it cannot keep him/her from trouble, it cannot give piece of conscience, it cannot comfort in sorrow, it cannot bring peace in death, it cannot purchase heaven. All a person can do with the world after gaining it is keep it until death. It cannot be brought into eternal life. How many famous, wealthy movie stars, musicians and entertainers have committed suicide?

   When a thief stole his lamp, Epictetus said, “It is the thief who loses. I bought the lamp; it cost me a few pennies but it cost the thief his soul.” We lose our souls when we are no longer alive to God and His love. We lose our souls when we place some other person or thing at the center of life. We lose our souls when we move away from God and no longer experience the power of His presence. We lose our souls when we feel there is no longer any hope of forgiveness.

   In conclusion, denying oneself is the key to gaining our soul. A concert violinist was asked how she gained so much talent and skill in playing her instrument. Her reply was, “Planned neglect. I deliberately neglect other things in order to concentrate on the one task that is all-important.” What makes a great chess player? Planned neglect! A great author? An Olympic swimmer/athlete? What makes a dedicated Christian? Planned neglect of the less important things in life in order to concentrate on the all-important call of Jesus- follow Me! Amen!