Sunday, October 12, 2014

How Your Soul Is Like Your Cell Phone

(Twenty-eighth Sunday of the Year (A): This homily was given on October 12, 2014 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I.  Read Philippians 4: 12-20.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Twenty-eighth Sunday 2014]

Do you realize that your soul is a lot like your cell phone?

That’s probably not a question you’ve pondered deeply in recent years—or ever!—which is one of the reasons I’m addressing it at this Mass.  My hope is that when you look at your cell phone in the future, you’ll think of your soul and your relationship with God.

I’m presuming here that you have a cell phone—or at least use one from time to time.  (Never in church, of course!  Did I really need to say that?  Yes, I probably did.)

First of all, it needs to be noted that there are many ways that your soul is NOT like your cell phone.  Your cell phone, for example, is a material object, while your soul is immaterial.

Your cell phone (even if it’s a really good one) will last only a few years; your soul, on the other hand, will last forever.

And you have the possibility of eventually upgrading your cell phone, if you don’t like the one you currently have.  That’s not the case with your soul.  Your soul is unique, and your soul is irreplaceable.  The one you have right now is the one you’ve had from the very beginning of your earthly life, and it’s the one you will continue to have unto eternity!

And yet there are many ways that your soul is like your cell phone.  But before I mention some of those, let me focus your attention on the verse of today’s second reading which prompted me to address this subject in my homily this morning.  It’s one of my favorite verses of the New Testament: Philippians 4: 13: “I can do all things in him [that is to say, in Christ] who strengthens me.”

That’s a very hopeful verse; that’s a very encouraging verse.  Here Paul applies it specifically to himself.  But the good news is that it also has an application to each and every one of us. 

Notice that Paul doesn’t say in this text that he’s had it easy since becoming a Christian.  Quite oppositely, he indicates that there have been times since his conversion when he’s been hungry and in need.

On some level, I think, we can all relate.

But he also makes it clear that he’s learned how to deal successfully with every situation he’s faced—good and bad.

And this ability to deal with trials and challenges and temptations he attributes to his relationship with Jesus Christ!

He says, “I can do all things IN CHRIST who strengthens me.”

Not “on my own”; not “by picking myself up by my bootstraps”; not “by sheer human willpower”—but by the inner power and strength that comes through faith in Jesus.

Which means that this verse of Scripture (“I can do all things in him who strengthens me”) will only apply to us as it applied to Paul IF we have a relationship with Jesus Christ that’s like the one St. Paul had!

And that brings us back to a consideration of our souls and our cell phones. 

A soul that’s alive in Christ—in other words, a soul that’s residing in a person who has the kind of relationship with Jesus that Paul had—is like a cell phone that’s functioning as it should.

Now think about what’s needed for a cell phone to function and operate properly.

First of all, it needs a live battery!  Without a live, fully-functioning battery there will be no phone calls, no emails, no text messages, no anything!

Well our soul is like our cell phone in the sense that if it’s going to make the spiritual connection with Jesus that it needs to make, it must be in the state of grace.

That is to say it can’t be in the state of mortal sin.  Mortal sin is for the soul what a dead battery is for a cell phone!

So I suppose you could say that the confessional is like the cell phone store, because in the confessional our soul receives sanctifying grace again—which is akin to getting a brand new battery for a “dead” cell phone.

And yet, it’s not enough to have a battery that works; we also need to have a battery that’s “charged”!
And we need to charge that battery every day!  Once a week isn’t gonna cut it—if we use our phone regularly (as most of us do).

If we want to find our strength in Christ—if we want to be able to do all things in him—then we need to “spiritually recharge” every day!

In this regard, Sunday Mass and the Eucharist—which are necessary foundations for our relationship with Jesus—are not sufficient.  We need to “plug into Christ” every single day in other ways: through Eucharistic Adoration or Scripture reading or the Rosary or some other devotion—or all of the above.

And how about daily Mass?  That’s a great way to begin your day with prayer—if your schedule permits it.

The bottom line is that there’s no excuse for not praying and “recharging” our soul every day in some fashion.

No excuse.  Even if we have a very, very busy schedule!

For example, one of the things I do when I’m in my car for more than 20 minutes is to pray the Rosary (I have the Scriptural Rosary on CD.  In the Scriptural Rosary a brief verse of the Bible is read before each Hail Mary—which can really help you to stay focused on the mystery you’re supposed to be meditating on).

The reason I mention this in this context is because I also have a cell phone charger plugged into the cigarette lighter of my car, and 99.9% of the time when I get into my car to go somewhere I plug in my cell phone to charge it up a bit. 

So, you see, if we’re really pressed for time and have an extremely busy schedule, there’s actually a way to “charge up” our soul AND our cell phone at the same time.

Where there’s a will, there’s always a way—to pray!

Now if you have a smartphone like I do, you also know that you also need to keep it “updated” for it to work efficiently.  And that’s precisely the way it is for our souls.  This is why growing in the knowledge of our Catholic Faith is so important.  This is why studying the Scriptures and the Catechism in some fashion is so essential.

We can’t live what we don’t know.

It’s also important to protect your cell phone.  I have a screen protector on mine to keep the face from being scratched, and I have a rubberized case to protect it when I drop it (which I have on a few occasions!).

Well, our souls also need to be “protected” if we want them to be as open to the grace of Christ as St. Paul’s was.  That means we have to try to “avoid the near occasions of sin” as much as we can.  Which isn’t easy in our modern world—especially with the internet and TV and all the other sources of temptation that are out there at the present time.

But neither is it impossible.  And if we fail, well, we can always go back to the “cell phone store” known as the confessional!
“I can do all things IN CHRIST who strengthens me.”

St. Paul could say that because his soul was like a well-functioning cell phone in all the ways I just mentioned: it had a “live battery” (i.e., it was in the state of grace); it got “re-charged” every day through prayer and the Eucharist; it got “updated” constantly as he pondered the Old Testament Scriptures (his letters show that clearly—the man knew his Bible!); and it was “protected” through discipline (as he said in First Corinthians 9: “What I do is discipline my own body and master it …”).

Today let us ask the Lord to make our souls more like St. Paul’s—so that we will be able to cope with every circumstance of our lives and “do all things” in Jesus Christ, who strengthens us!