Last Sunday, I sprained my ankle on the way to the Cathedral for Confessions. I rolled my ankle in the second step after going out the door. It was the silliest accident I have ever had.
I went to the doctor for X-rays, and he said there were no broken bones. He recommended elevation and ice, which I have been using faithfully.
It has been challenging to put any weight on the injured foot. Thankfully, our deacons have been helping me very generously with adoration and Mass this last week. I could not have done it without them!
While meditating on today’s Gospel a few days ago, it occurred to me that although the words “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God” apply chiefly to the relations between Church and State, we can also make a connection to the union between body and soul.
Then, I started looking at what the Fathers of the Church say about it, and I found the following by Origen, “We ought to give some things to the body as a tribute to Caesar, that is to say, necessities. And such things as are agreeable to our souls’ nature, that is, such things as lead to virtue, those we ought to offer to God.”
Origen also says that those who excessively emphasize God’s law and insist that we should neglect our physical needs are like the Pharisees. The Pharisees, for instance, opposed paying taxes to Caesar, prohibited marriage, and enforced dietary restrictions that God never intended (as mentioned in 1 Timothy 4:3). On the contrary, those who overly indulge in bodily desires are akin to the Herodians. However, our Savior advocated for a balanced approach. He did not want virtue to be weakened by excessive care of the physical aspect of life, nor did He want our physical nature to be overwhelmed by an unrelenting pursuit of virtue.
In last week’s experience, I realized how important it is to give enough care to my body so I can serve the Lord. I distinctly saw how difficult it is to do the most minor things of daily life without using a foot.
Origen gives us great insight into a healthy living of the Gospel. We must have a balanced approach, caring for our bodies without neglecting our souls and the reverse.
In other words, let’s avoid becoming Pharisees who overemphasized the spiritual to the body’s care detriment. We can see this error in people who think they should not use medicine, but God will make a miracle to heal them. Or, people who think God is asking them to serve him so much that they don’t sleep more than three hours a day and end up with a nervous breakdown.
On the other hand, we also need to avoid becoming Herodians, overly caring for the body to the soul’s detriment. For example, when individuals become overly preoccupied with their looks, constantly pursuing cosmetic procedures, extreme diets, and exercise routines, to the neglect of their spiritual and emotional well-being. Or, those who occupy themselves in a relentless pursuit of wealth, possessions, and a luxurious lifestyle, leading them to neglect spiritual and moral values, as the focus becomes solely on material gain. Or, those who are excessively focused on pleasure-seeking, such as overindulgence in food, alcohol, or other sensory pleasures, leading to a disregard for moral principles and the development of one’s spirit.
God has created us a union of body and soul. We are called to keep them in harmony. Let’s take good care of our bodies so we may serve the Lord with them while striving to love him with our whole soul.