Look after Yourself!18 March 2020
The unity of the soul and mind is what makes our human existence special. Never before has there ever been anyone else exactly like you. Nor will there ever be again. Each of us is unique and inimitable in the whole history of the human race.
There is, of course, the point that no-one is irreplaceable, but this is wrong. If we’re talking about work, we aren’t concerned with replacement but succession. At work, people can be replaced, but as far as our very existence is concerned, we’re irreplaceable.
This is precisely why, in the Gospel, Christ says this about the value of our soul: ‘What good will it do someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?’ (Matth. 16, 26).
As a small aide memoire in our efforts to put our soul (= our self) to rights, in accordance with the will of God, let’s look as some of what Saint Basil the Great says in his interpretation of the saying in the Old Testament: ‘Take heed of yourself, that there be not a secret thing in your heart, an iniquity’ (Deut. 15, 9):
Look after yourself, not your things, not what’s around you. We are soul and mind. Our body and its feelings are ours. What’s around us is money, the arts, and the rest of the constructs of life. So take heed to keep any contamination of sin well away from your soul and instead to adorn it with every virtue.
Look after yourself so that you can discern the health and sickness of your soul because of sin. Is the sin great and burdensome? You need full confession, fasting, and repentance. If the transgression isn’t so great, then repentance should be commensurate.
Look after yourself when everything is your life is going well and is pleasant, because there’s a danger you’ll become arrogant and proud. Keep saying what the Publican did: ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am’.
Look after yourself when life isn’t going well for you, because then you’re at risk of despair and spiritual despondency. Remember, you were made ‘in the image of God’ so you have a spiritual capacity like no other. So, say ‘Lord help me’.
Let us then look after ourselves, so that we’ll be filled with the joy and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.