Materializing and spiritualizing PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 June 2017 14:17



GIVEN the material and spiritual dimensions in which our earthly life has to develop, we really need to learn how to blend the two together in some unity and consistency without, of course, confusing them. What is material is material, and what is spiritual is spiritual, but the two should mutually affect each other. Focusing on one while neglecting on the other would not be proper to us.

Of the two, it is also a given that it is the spiritual dimension that should be given prominence and priority. As Christ himself said, “It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no help at all…” (Jn 6,63)

And yet the body can neither be disregarded since, as St. Paul said, “Do you not know that your bodies are the members of Christ…that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?...Therefore, glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor 6,15-20)

We have to learn how to put these two dimensions together in some mutual relation. We need to spiritualize our material selves, that is, our body, our flesh, just as we need to materialize our spiritual selves, that is, our soul.

Otherwise, we would fall into the extremes of spiritualism, a spirituality devoid of material effects, on the one hand, and materialism, an ideology that denies any spiritual constituent in our life, on the other. The former can easily give rise to hypocrisy and self-righteousness, while the latter can only breed crudeness.

These isms are akin to what St. James in his letter described as faith without works, for spiritualism, and works without faith, for materialism. (cfr. 2,14-26) To be sure, one’s Christian life may give more emphasis on one over the other, but both should be given their proper attention and development.

At the moment, it is clear that the materialistic lifestyle is more rampant in the world today. Just the same, the purely spiritualistic lifestyle is also growing and, in fact, is hardening in some sectors. This divide should be overcome because neither one nor the other is good for us.

Since the time of Christ and the apostles, all kinds of spiritualities, cultures and lifestyles have expressed their own versions of how these two dimensions in our life ought to be lived and interrelated. They always have valid points to give.

But we need to develop a culture that is adapted to our present conditions. Such culture should take into consideration the technological developments, the socio-political milieus in the world, the different sensibilities of the people today, etc.

This aspect of our common life should be given due attention and should never be taken for granted. It’s true that God is always around and is in control of things, regardless of how we mess up his providence. But we are expected to do our part.

We need to learn the art of spiritualizing the material dimension of our life, and materializing the spiritual as well. To be sure this is the right path to lead us to the fullness of our human and Christian life!