Terrance KleinJune 09, 2021
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

A Reflection for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Ezekiel 17:22-24 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 Mark 4:26-34

How do you picture your soul? It matters, because we think by way of the images our minds draw. That is what concepts are: mental pictures.

In picturing your soul, something like Casper the Ghost might come to mind. A cartoon image, sketched in black and white. It contrasts with your body and the rest of the world, sketched and filled in with color.

For centuries, philosophers and theologians thought they were refining this image by thinking of the soul as something like a geometrical point, a spot of no extension where the spiritual and physical worlds touched.

How do you picture your soul?

Here is a better picture. Imagine a farmer’s work boots. Through how many seasons of sweat has he worn them? You can see flood and drought recorded on them. They smell of livestock. There is that spot on the toes, where the kids used to lift themselves into his lap.

Those work boots are a better image of the soul than a cartoon ghost or a geometrical point because they speak of the farmer’s world of concern and care. See the boots with some imaginative sympathy and you see him, his life in the world.

How we picture our souls matters. Uncolored cartoons and geometrical points do not change or weather. They do not grow in response to what happens in the world around them. But we do.

Our life in the Lord is about letting growth happen through all the seasons of sweat.

If you do not want to say that someone who is 24 has a larger soul than someone who is 12, then you must at least say that they have more humanity, a larger world of care and concern in which they dwell.

If you cannot see your soul as something that should never stop growing, even in the face of adversity, then you can make little sense of Ezekiel’s promise:

Thus says the Lord God:
I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,
from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,
and plant it on a high and lofty mountain;
on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
and become a majestic cedar (17:22-23).

Jesus compared the kingdom of God—people, not principalities—to a mustard seed. What we need to know about that tiny kernel is this: It can—and will—grow if we let it. If we want it to. That seed is a perfect picture of our souls. Our life in the Lord is about letting growth happen through all the seasons of sweat.

More: Scripture

The latest from america

Eric Krewson of The Chairman Dances (photo courtesy of Eric Krewson)
Eric Krewson and the band he headlines, The Chairman Dances, wrote a song that celebrates the friendship of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. And that song will shortly be on its way to the Vatican.
Renée Darline RodenNovember 29, 2021
Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim gestures during a gathering at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., on April 12, 2004. Sondheim, the songwriter who reshaped the American musical theater in the second half of the 20th century, has died at age 91. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
Sondheim’s stories and lyrics always seemed to be addressing you personally. You couldn’t simply watch his musicals. Eventually you had to contend with them.
Jim McDermottNovember 29, 2021
Phil Saviano, a clergy sex abuse survivor and whistleblower who played a pivotal role in exposing decades of predatory assaults by Roman Catholic priests in the United States, has died.