Monday, April 7, 2014

Life as Ministry

"Christ sets His followers no tasks. He appoints no hours. He allots no sphere. He Himself simply went about and did good. He did not stop life to do some special thing which should be called religious. His life was His religion. Each day as it came brought round in the ordinary course its natural ministry. Each village along the highway had someone waiting to be helped. His pulpit was the hillside, His congregation a woman at a well. The poor, wherever He met them, were His clients; the sick, as often as He found them, His opportunity. His work was everywhere; His workshop was the world." [1]

In today's world humans live in a crippling dichotomy. There is a great divide between our daily lives and actions and our spiritual life. Spiritual life is mostly assigned to the task of going to the temple, mosque or church and performing certain rituals on specific time or period. This is very much evident in some individual, who I come across on a regular basis, who abstain from alcohol and other physical pleasures during the forty days of Lent or before their pilgrimage to Sabarimala temple or Velankanni Cathedral, but indulge in debauchery, binge drinking and a despicable life during the rest of the year.

The topic we have chosen today reflects the integral aspect of one's life where in there is no segregation between the process of life and spirituality. The reason why the divide between our daily lives and our practice of spirituality is due to our understanding of spirituality as a reality which outside material reality.

As Aldo Tassi writes: "Traditionally, philosophy has engaged this problem in one of two ways. There is first of all the dualist who, starting with Plato, argues for the presence of a different sort of reality: namely, a reality which is autonomous with respect to material reality and has an existence all its own. The elusive nature of spiritual reality can be explained as arising from the fact that we mistakenly take the experience of material reality to be the norm for our dealings with reality.
In opposition to the dualist, we have those who argue for the reverse position: namely, reality is reality and there are no two ways about it. According to this view, the reason why we take the experience of material reality to be the norm is because that is in fact the way reality is. It is understandable that spiritual reality should prove to be so elusive since it is nothing more than a fantasy." [2]

Through the Aristotelian view, St. Thomas Aquinas rejected the Platonic nature that segregates the human soul as having an existence other than the existence it has as the form of the body and, for which reason, it is able to pursue an existence in separation from the body. He opts, instead, to use Aristotle's notion that the soul's being consists in being the substantial form of the body and hence the duality of material reality of the body, its life and the world and the ineffable reality of the soul which infuses life into the material form cannot be separated.
The doctrinal authorization for this view was derived from the mythological Genesis, through a literal interpretation,  as God makes the lifeless body of Adam and blows into it the soul. Hence in a living human being body and soul cannot be separated.

We have to even transcend this limited understanding of the integral nature of bodily and spiritual life and understand that the integral nature of all existence is preordained in beginning of cosmic creation through the life empowering substratum of Divine consciousness which pervades all realms.

Christ understood the true nature of human spirituality as inseparable from the world and hence his nature of ministry in empowering the individuals was rooted in the material realm through his words and deeds. This is the reason that we say "............ his life was his religion". But we have taken our religion out of our lives and this needs radical correction through this renewed understanding.

Love to you all.

[1] Henry Drummond, "The Ministry of Christ", in The Jewel in the Lotus, Raghavan Iyer, ed., Concord Grove Press, Santa Barbara, 1983), p. 201. 
[2] "Spirituality as a State of Being" By Tassi, Aldo | Philosophy Today, Summer 2000


  1. "His life was his religion"
    is the quote with universal application to each and everyone.
    Nice article!

  2. Thank you for your appreciation.
    I know you are a good example of this statement.

  3. Dear Tiburtius, this posting is on a theme which I always cherish and convinced. Spirituality cannot be secluded from the temporal realm for which Jesus Himself is the great model. Confining spirituality within the Church walls is that which I sometimes become intolerable about. Thanks for this posting. God bless!

  4. Thank you Maria, for your feedback.
    I have always felt that you are one who will transcend narrow domains of religious belief system and journey into the consciousness realm where true spirituality can be experienced.
    Please keep spreading this broader outlook as you have an excellent platform through your position as an ordained disciple.
    Please keep me in your prayers.