Sunday, October 13, 2019

Roman Catholic Unitarian Universalism - If the body is chained, what about the mind?

2 Timothy 2:8-15

 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David--that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. 
Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.
This is today's epistle in the lectionary. It is a letter from Paul to Timothy. Paul writes some interesting things that deserve further consideration beyond a cursory reading.
First, Paul tells Timothy that the body can be chained but the mind is not chained. We can always chose how we will think and feel about external circumstances. Paul is telling Timothy not to think like a victim. He is not a victim, but a child of God and a brother with Jesus.
Second, Paul tells Timothy that in addition to having a mind of his own and not thinking and feeling like a victim, he is attempting to demonstrate this ability so that others may learn what he knows: his power to decide how he understands and sees himself.
Third, Paul tells Timothy that if he gives up the path of the ego and embarks on the path of the spirit he can enjoy the peace that Jesus has enjoyed. If we persist on the path of the spirit we will join with Jesus, and if we deny the opporunity to walk with Jesus on the path of the spirit, Jesus still does not abandon us but waits patiently for as long as it takes for us to realize the falsity of the ego and the Truth of the Spirit.
Fourth, Paul tells Timothy what the Unitarian pioneer Francis David said 1500 years later, to "avoid wrangling over words" or as David said, "We need not think alike to love alike."
Overall this section of Paul's letter to Timothy is encouraging and educational pointing out that peace and well being is not depdendent on the body but on the mind. The body can be chained, but the mind is free. We can choose what we want to attend to and focus on. Jesus showed us a way pointing out that the path of the spirit is more fulfilling than the path of the ego. This is a foundational principle in Unitarian Universalism when we covenant together to affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Paul tells Timothy that truth and meaning is not to found in the chained body but in the free and beautiful mind.

How does this distinction between the mind and the body apply in your life? To what extent do you feel victimized by external circumstances over which you have little or no control? What do you think of Paul's idea that we can follow Jesus' example that the mind is more powerful than the body and that we can always choose another way? To what extent has the UU principle of the free and responsible search for truth and meaning helped you embark on a spiritual path and turn from the tricks and ways of the ego?

To what extent do you find the application of Christian scripture to the living tradition of Unitarian Universalism helpful?

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