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To: All

From: Colossians 3:1-11

Seek the Things That Are Above


[1] If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Avoid Sin


[2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. [3]
For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ who
is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. [5] Put to death
therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and
covetousness, which is idolatry. [6] 0n account of these the wrath of God is co-
ming. [7] In these you once walked, when you lived in them. [8] But now put
them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth.
[9] Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its
practices [10] and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in know-
ledge after the image of its creator. [11] Here there cannot be Greek and Jew,
circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but
Christ is all, and in all.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

1-4. The more ethical and exhortatory part of the letter begins at this point. It is
a practical application of the teaching given in the earlier chapters, designed to
suit the circumstances that have arisen in the Colossian church.

By His death and resurrection the Son of God frees us from the power of Satan
and of death. “By Baptism men are grafted into the paschal mystery of Christ;
they die with him, are buried with Him, and rise with Him” (Vatican II, “Sacro-
sanctum Concilium”, 6). In other words, Christians have been raised to a new
kind of life, a supernatural life, whereby they share, even while on earth, in the
glorious life of the risen Jesus. This life is at present spiritual and hidden, but
when our Lord comes again in glory, it will become manifest and glorious.

Two practical consequences flow from this teaching — the need to seek the
“things that are above”, that is, the things of God; and the need to pass un-
noticed in one’s everyday work and ordinary life, yet to do everything with a
supernatural purpose in mind.

As regards the first of these the Second Vatican Council has said: “In their pil-
grimage to the Heavenly city Christians are to seek and relish the things that
are above (cf. Colossians 3:1-2): this involves not a lesser, but a greater com-
mitment to working with all men to build a world that is more human” (”Gaudium
Et Spes”, 57). Work, family relationships, social involvements — every aspect of
human affairs — should be approached in a spirit of faith and done perfectly, out
of love: “The true Christian, who acts according to this faith”, St. Escriva com-
ments, “always has his sights set on God. His outlook is supernatural. He
works in this world of ours, which he loves passionately; he is involved in all its
challenges, but all the while his eyes are fixed on Heaven” (”Friends of God”,
206).

Ordinary life, everyday interests, the desire to be better and to serve others
without seeking public recognition of one’s merits — all this makes for holiness
if done for love of God. A simple life “hid with Christ in God” (verse 3) is so im-
portant that Jesus Himself chose to spend the greater part of His life on earth li-
ving like an ordinary person: He was the son of a tradesman. “As we meditate
on these truths, we come to understand better the logic of God. We come to
realize that the supernatural value of our life does not depend on accomplishing
great undertakings suggested to us by our over-active imagination. Rather it is
to be found in the faithful acceptance of God’s will, in welcoming generously the
opportunities for small, daily sacrifice” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”,
172).

This means that those who try to seek holiness by imitating Jesus in His hid-
den life will be people full of hope; they will be optimistic and happy people; and
after their death they will share in the glory of the Lord: they will hear Jesus’
praise, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little;
I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:21).

On the value of the hidden life, see the note on Luke 2:15.

5-17. The Christian, who in Baptism has risen with Christ, should not live for
himself but for God. This means that every day he needs to put off his old na-
ture and put on the new.

The “old nature”, the “old man”: one who lets himself be led by disorderly pas-
sions (cf. Rom 7:8), who lets his body do evil in the service of sin (v. 5; cf. Rom
6:12f). With the help of grace the old nature is being more and more broken
down, while the new nature is constantly being renewed (cf. 2 Cor 6:16). Impuri-
ty and the other vices need to be uprooted so as to make room for goodness
and its train of Christian virtues (vv. 12-13), especially charity (v. 14), which are
features of the new nature.

Christ’s disciple, who has been made a new person and who lives for the Lord,
has a new and more perfect knowledge of God and of the world (v. 10). Thanks
to this he see things from a more elevated viewpoint; he has a “supernatural in-
sight”. This enables him to love and understand everyone without distinction of
race, nation or social status (v. 11), and to imitate Christ, who has given himself
up for all. “The Only-begotten of the Eternal Father vouchsafed to become a son
of man, that we might be made conformable to the image of the Son of God and
be renewed according to the likeness of him who created us. Therefore let all
those who glory in the name of Christians not only look upon our divine Savior
as the most sublime and most perfect model of all virtues, but also, by the care-
ful avoidance of sin and the unremitting practice of holiness, so reproduce in
their conduct his teaching and life, that when the Lord appears they may be like
to him in glory, seeing him as he is (cf. 1 Jn 3:2)” (Pius XII, “Mystici Corporis”,
20).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


3 posted on 09/06/2011 7:16:30 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Luke 6:20-26

The Beatitudes and the Curses


[20] And He (Jesus) lifted up His eyes on His disciples, and said: “Blessed are
you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. [21] Blessed are you that hunger
now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall
laugh. [22] Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you
and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
[23] Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Hea-
ven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. [24] But woe to you that are rich, for
you have received your consolation. [25] Woe to you that are full now, for you
shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. [26]
Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false
prophets.”

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

20-49. These thirty verses of St. Luke correspond to some extent to the Sermon
on the Mount, an extensive account of which St. Matthew gives us in Chapters 5
to 7 in his Gospel. It is very likely that in the course of His public ministry in diffe-
rent regions and towns of Israel Jesus preached the same things, using different
words on different occasions. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit each evan-
gelist would have chosen to report those things which he considered most useful
for the instruction of his immediate readers—Christians of Jewish origin in the
case of Matthew, Gentile converts in the case of Luke. There is no reason why
one evangelist should not have selected certain items and another different ones,
depending on his readership, or why one should not have laid special stress on
some subjects and shortened or omitted accounts of others.

In this present discourse, we might distinguish three parts—the Beatitudes and
the curses (6:20-26); love of one’s enemies (6:27-38); and teaching on upright-
ness of heart (6:39-49).

Some Christians may find it difficult to grasp the need of practising the moral
teaching of the Gospel so radically, in particular Christ’s teaching in the Sermon
on the Mount. Jesus is very demanding in what He says, but He is saying it to
everyone, and not just to His Apostles or to those disciples who followed Him
closely. We are told expressly that “when Jesus finished these sayings, the
crowds were astonished at His teaching” (Matthew 7:28). It is quite clear that
the Master calls everyone to holiness, making no distinction of state-in-life, race
or personal circumstances. This teaching on the universal call to holiness was
a central point of the teaching of St. Escriva. The Second Vatican Council ex-
pressed the same teaching with the full weight of its authority: everyone is
called to Christian holiness; consider, for example, just one reference it makes,
in “Lumen Gentium”, 11: “Strengthened by so many and such great means of
salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state — though each in his
or her own way—are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which
the Father Himself is perfect.”

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is not proposing an unattainable ideal, useful
though that might be to make us feel humble in the light of our inability to reach
it. No. Christian teaching in this regard is quite clear: what Christ commands,
He commands in order to have us do what He says. Along with His command-
ment comes grace to enable us to fulfill it. Therefore, every Christian is capable
of practising the moral teaching of Christ and of attaining the full height of his
calling —holiness—not by his own efforts alone but by means of the grace which
Christ has won for us, and with the abiding help of the means of sanctification
which He left to His Church. “If anyone plead human weakness to excuse Him-
self for not loving God, it should be explained that He who demands our love
pours into our hearts by the Holy Spirit the fervor of His love, and this good Spirit
our Heavenly Father gives to those that ask Him. With reason, therefore, did St.
Augustine pray: ‘Give Me what Thou command, and command what You please.’
As, then, God is ever ready to help us, especially since the death of Christ our
Lord, by which the prince of this world was cast out, there is no reason why any-
one should be disheartened by the difficulty of the undertaking. To him who loves,
nothing is difficult” (”St. Pius V Catechism”, III, 1, 7).

20-26. The eight Beatitudes which St. Matthew gives (5:3-12) are summed up in
four by St. Luke, but with four opposite curses. We can say, with St. Ambrose,
that Matthew’s eight are included in Luke’s four (cf. “Expositio Evangelii Sec.
Lucam, in loc.”). In St. Luke they are in some cases stated in a more incisive,
more direct form than in the First Gospel, where they are given with more expla-
nation: for example, the first beatitude says simply “Blessed are you poor”,
whereas in Matthew we read, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, which contains
a brief explanation of the virtue of poverty.

20. “The ordinary Christian has to reconcile two aspects of this life that can at
first seem contradictory. There is on the one hand “true poverty”, which is ob-
vious and tangible and made up of definite things. This poverty should be an ex-
pression of faith in God and a sign that the heart is not satisfied with created
things and aspires to the Creator; that it wants to be filled with love of God so
as to be able to give this same love to everyone. On the other hand, an ordinary
Christian is and wants to be “one more among his fellow men”, sharing their
way of life, their joys and happiness; working with them, loving the world and
all the good things that exist in it; using all created things to solve the problems
of human life and to establish a spiritual and material environment which will fos-
ter personal and social development [...].

“To my way of thinking the best examples of poverty are those mothers and
fathers of large and poor families who spend their lives for their children and who
with their effort and constancy—often without complaining of their needs—bring
up their family, creating a cheerful home in which everyone learns to love, to
serve and to work” (St. J. Escriva, “Conversations”, 110f).

24-26. Our Lord here condemns four things: avarice and attachment to the things
of the world; excessive care of the body, gluttony; empty-headed joy and general
self-indulgence; flattery, and disordered desire for human glory—four very common
vices which a Christian needs to be on guard against.

24. In the same kind of way as in verse 20, which refers to the poor in the sense
of those who love poverty, seeking to please God better, so in this verse the “rich”
are to be understood as those who strive to accumulate possessions heedless
of whether or not they are doing so lawfully, and who seek their happiness in
those possessions, as if they were their ultimate goal. But people who inherit
wealth or acquire it through honest work can be really poor provided they are de-
tached from these things and are led by that detachment to use them to help
others, as God inspires them. We can find in Sacred Scriptures a number of peo-
ple to whom the beatitude of the poor can be applied although they possessed
considerable wealth—Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, Job, for example.

As early as St. Augustine’s time there were people who failed to understand
poverty and riches properly: they reasoned as follows: The Kingdom of Heaven
belongs to the poor, the Lazaruses of this world, the hungry; all the rich are bad,
like this rich man here. This sort of thinking led St. Augustine to explain the deep
meaning of wealth and poverty according to the spirit of the Gospel: “Listen, poor
man, to my comments on your words. When you refer to yourself as Lazarus,
that holy man covered with wounds, I am afraid your pride makes you describe
yourself incorrectly. Do not despise rich men who are merciful, who are humble:
or, to put it briefly, do not despise poor rich men. Oh, poor man, be poor yourself;
poor, that is, humble [...].

Listen to me, then. Be truly poor, be devout, be humble; if you glory in your rag-
ged and ulcerous poverty, if you glory in likening yourself to that beggar lying
outside the rich man’s house, then you are only noticing his poverty, and nothing
else. What should I notice you ask? Read the Scriptures and you will understand
what I mean. Lazarus was poor, but he to whose bosom he was brought was rich.
‘It came to pass, it is written, that the poor man died and he was brought by the
angels to Abraham’s bosom.’ To where? To Abraham’s bosom, or let us say, to
that mysterious place where Abraham was resting. Read [...] and remember that
Abraham was a very wealthy man when he was on earth: he had abundance of
money, a large family, flocks, land; yet that rich man was poor, because he was
humble. ‘Abraham believed God and he was reckoned righteous.’ [...] He was
faithful, he did good, received the commandment to offer his son in sacrifice, and
he did not refuse to offer what he had received to Him from whom he had received
it. He was approved in God’s sight and set before us as an example of faith”
(”Sermon”, 14).

To sum up: poverty does not consist in something purely external, in having or
not having material goods, but in something that goes far deeper, affecting a per-
son’s heart and soul; it consists in having a humble attitude to God, in being
devout, in having total faith. If a Christian has these virtues and also has an abun-
dance of material possessions, he should be detached from his wealth and act
charitably towards others and thus be pleasing to God. On the other hand, if
someone is not well-off he is not justified in God’s sight on that account, if he
fails to strive to acquire those virtues in which true poverty consists.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


4 posted on 09/06/2011 7:17:04 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies ]

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