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What is "me"?

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant…” Luke 1: 39-48

It’s pretty obvious what “stuff” Jersey folk are made of, isn’t it? (Good, strong stuff? But what “stuff”?) Maybe it’s less than obvious?

Certainly a major part of us is truly tangible – our bodies, bones, blood and brains. No real difficulty there – on the face of it. But what about the intangible part of all of us? What exactly is that?

Most Jersey folk, without thinking and possibly without realising it, have adopted a simple two-element answer to “what is me?” “I am “body” plus “me””. And for each of us our own “me” is intangible and, in a way, spiritual. My intangible “me” and my tangible body works together and makes up what is, for me, “me-as-a-living-body”.
‘The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.’ (Moses writing in Genesis 2: 7 – circa BC 1350)

If you agree with this analysis them you will probably agree that your learnt languages are stored as part of your intangible “me”. Are those learnt languages tangibly stored in your brain? Probably not?

Even more intriguing is this question: where is your store of emotions, like your love a particular piece of music? Are those emotions, in some physical way, stored tangibly in your brain? Or are they completely intangible?

Maybe you didn’t know but the writer of one of the four biographies of Jesus Christ was a physician. We should call him Dr. Luke instead of just Luke or St Luke. In his day (c. AD 50) Dr Luke would have been well aware of the voluminous classical Greek literature (500 BC to 300 BC) on “what is me?”

At the very beginning of his biography of Jesus (written around AD 62) Dr Luke quotes Mary, the mother of Jesus, using two interesting Greek words – see underlined at end of bold above. Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant…”

Mary speaks of her “soul” (Greek psyche) which is “magnifying” the Lord God Almighty. She also speaks of her “spirit” (Greek pneuma) which is “rejoicing” in God her Saviour. Soul? Spirit? What’s the difference?

From Dr Luke’s repeated usage of the word “spirit”, it seems that Mary’s “spirit” was indeed her intangible “me” as discussed above. United with her tangible body, her “spirit” made the two into her own “me-as-a-living-person”. And her “me”, her “spirit” was “rejoicing in God her Saviour.”

Dr Luke also used “spirit” (see underlined at start of bold above) when he reported that, at that particular time also, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She became full of praise to God above. Elizabeth had something in addition to her “me”, in addition to her own “spirit”? God’s “Spirit” within?
‘I baptise you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose shoe I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.’ (John the Baptist speaking of the coming Jesus Christ, AD 30)

Coming back to Mary, what about her “soul”? “My soul magnifies the Lord…” Again, Dr Luke uses that Greek word (psyche) several times elsewhere in his biography. It seems to relate only to an incomplete “me-as-a-living-body”, only to “the-self-conscious-me”. Dr Luke uses psyche, here and elsewhere, when a person talks to himself or herself. The productive grower said, “I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years…”

For Mary, her life experience - to date – had included (like Elizabeth) the Holy Spirit coming upon her and her becoming pregnant. Her life experience had changed her and changed how she saw herself. Now, in AD 0, she could talk to herself and say, “My “me”, my psyche, my soul magnifies the Lord….”

A wonderful change - in a mum to be. Recorded in a doctor's biography.
Richard Syvret

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