11 Sept 2019
Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life: fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; all this is the sort of behaviour that makes God angry. And it is the way in which you used to live when you were surrounded by people doing the same thing, but now you, of all people, must give all these things up: getting angry, being bad-tempered, spitefulness, abusive language and dirty talk; and never tell each other lies. You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised or the uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free man. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.
Fixing his eyes on his disciples Jesus said:
‘How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.
Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied.
Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh.
Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.
‘But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.
Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry.
Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.
‘Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.’
If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above.
I had my conversion experience some 8 years ago and was baptized a Catholic 27 years ago. I’d like to believe that I am a follower, and a practicing Catholic. So, I am risen in Christ! To be risen also means that I first had to die. I am to consider myself dead to sin, dead to the earthly patterns and desires. But sometimes, I fall. Actually, I tumble and roll into the trenches.
Today’s first reading tells us “Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above.” I worry about the most human of things – what is my life’s purpose? Am I adding value each day? What happens if I have cancer? Will I have enough to last through my golden years? (CPF’s marketing haunts me till today).
Today’s reading reminds us that if we want to break away from the past as well as the lies in our lives, where we place our gaze is important. Instead of looking down, or looking behind, Paul challenges us to look up, look out, look in and look around.
Recently, I was scrolling through my social media feeds. I came across this teaching by a certain pastor, who preached ‘I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received.’ (Ephesians 4:1). However before we walk, we have to sit. How well we walk is how well we sit (or rest). We must know what has been accomplished for us through Christ. Know what has been accomplished for us. Rest in what Christ has done, rest in the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t try to do before you are. Rest. And out of the rest comes spirit directed activity. We need to have a revelation of who we are, and what we do comes out of who we are. Through our baptism, we share in Christ’s threefold mission as prophet, priest, and king. What we do comes from knowing who we are. I am a prophet, priest and queen!
My problem is, and has been, one of busyness and activity. I am seeking, searching, and doing a lot. I am looking everywhere but within. I am reminded in the most creative ways by Jesus (he knows how distracted I am) that before I try to run and do, I need to be still and rest in Him
Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. This is hard for me. As I shared, I worry and fret about so many things. I worry that I don’t plan for things. And I reprimand myself for a lack of faith when I do plan for things. Not that taking action and planning is wrong; but I’ve learnt the need to be silent and still, to hear where the Lord is leading us. And to move with the Holy Spirit as it leads. I’ve also learnt that what is ‘right’ and logical for me (and perceived by the world as acceptable), isn’t always what our Lord has planned for me. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” Yup, it’s hard to fully let go, nor is it easy to understand. But God has written the blueprint of our lives in his big book.
Therefore, since we died with Christ, we don’t have to follow the rules of a hollow and deceptive philosophy. Since we’ve been raised with Christ, we have a new status and therefore, a new way of life. We now have a power source for living.
Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. The word “seek” is present tense, which in Greek indicates continuing action. In other words, Paul is telling us to seek and to keep on seeking the things that are above. It is a lifetime quest.
As Christians, God wants us to be aware of many things: the power of prayer, the sufficiency of the cross, the depth of His love, the power of forgiveness, the need for patience. He wants us to know from where we have come and where we are going. He wants us to put away the old man and put on the new man.
But God also wants us to use our minds and our mental faculties in a holy, constructive, and faithful way. He wants our attitude to be positive. He wants our focus to be on Him and what is Holy. He wants us to know that we are dearly loved by Him.
So brothers and sisters, let us fully die to ourselves and live in the new life of our baptism as priests, prophets and kings. Let us not be burdened by our past lives, our own expectations and that of others. Let us let go of our past and cast our eyes fully on the Lord and seek what is of Him, of above. Through His strength, grace and love.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Loving Father, help us to understand the precious relationship we have with Christ and what it means to be in Christ and to be seated with Him in heavenly places. Help us to set our hearts on the wonderful things that You have prepared for those that love You, and more and more may we be a reflection of Christ to all those we meet today, in His name, pray AMEN.
Thanksgiving: Thank You Father, for the blessed hope that is set before all those that trust in Christ Jesus. Thank You that each of us are in Christ and He is in us. That the day is coming when He will return to take us home to be with Him in heaven. Help us to set our minds on things above and not on earthly things and to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to You, in Jesus name I pray, AMEN.