So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
Psalm 145:2-3, 10-13AB
Every day I will bless you,
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power,
to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
“Woe to you who are full now,
for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who are laughing now,
for you will mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
In our scriptures today, we have a couple lists of “dos” and “do nots”. One of them makes a lot of sense to us. St. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, gives them only one “do”; set your minds on what is above where Christ is, let your life be hidden in Christ and Christ be your all. He then gives a list of “do nots” that those who have died with Christ should be dead to; fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed which is idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language. The first list sounds very reasonable, and the second adds up as things that Christians, and really anyone seeking to be a “good person”, should avoid.
Then we get Jesus’s list of “dos” and “do nots”, and these make a lot less sense to us. It seems that His “dos” are; be poor, be hungry, weep, and be hated. And conversely, the “do nots” are: be rich, be filled, laugh and be happy, and be esteemed and spoken well of. Why do these things sound so miserable, yet Jesus calls us “blessed”, also translated as “happy”, if we do them? And how does this list square with St. Paul’s?
In the “Catholicism” series, Bishop Barron (then Fr. Barron) explains that Jesus’s beatitudes tell us how to avoid the four things that we are tempted to seek most in this life; wealth, power, happiness, and honor. Although these are not inherently evil things, they become evil and bring evil out of us when we seek them before Christ. So really, St. Paul’s list of “dos” and Jesus’s are the same. St. Paul says to seek Christ above everything. And Christ says to be like Him, who labored without earthly wealth, laid down His power and glory, and embraced the agony and dishonor of His Passion for our salvation. And their lists of “do nots” are also the same. Paul lists vices that the believer is to die to. And Christ teaches us that we bring woe to ourselves and others when we seek after the things that He died to. For love of wealth brings about greed, love of power brings manipulation and exploitation, love of happiness indulges passion, impurity, and anger, and love of honor slander and evil desire.
Am I most tempted by desire for wealth, power, happiness, or honor? What accompanying vices is Christ calling me to die to with Him? When I see woe and suffering in the world, do I respond with passion and wrath, or do I mourn the evil and look to Jesus and His cross for healing and salvation?
Today, as we remember the events of 9/11 and mourn present woes around us in the world, let’s remember that the cross of Christ is victorious over all these things and, if we put Him first, we will see His victory in our lives.