Homily for Mass, Deschatelets Residence, Ottawa

[Readings: Col 3:1-11;  Ps 145;  Lk 6:20-26]

 

In my “monastic” days one of the frequent antiphons at the midday office was taken from the beginning of today’s first reading: 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 the earth.  After being embroiled in the business of the morning, it always seemed like a wonderful reminder:  seek the things that are above.  It always helped me to give a proper perspective to all that I had been doing, in case I’d forgotten, which was often the case.

 

In a similar manner, in one of the parishes where I was stationed there was a mountain.  And from the top of the mountain you had the most beautiful view of the entire parish.  It didn’t matter what was going on in the parish at the time, or how stressful it might be, if I went up that mountain I somehow gained a better perspective.  Problems didn’t seem insurmountable;  possibilities emerged.  I could see a different point of view – literally, and metaphorically.

 

I think the readings today challenge us to constantly realign our thoughts, our desires, our intentions, with the divine perspective.  In the first reading, Paul lists certain things that we have to put to death in ourselves.  You can’t get much more certain than that imperative: put to death.  And he goes on to list other things we must get rid of.

 

It’s a reminder that our natural inclinations are often wrong, and lead us to sin, and we have to open ourselves to God’s grace so that can set our minds on things that are above.

 

The Gospel points also to the radical realignment we have to make.  The kingdom of heaven tends toward the poor, the hungry, the weeping, the despised and the excluded.  These aren’t naturally attractive positions!  St Luke’s beatitudes are even more pointed, being in the second person.  These aren’t about others;  they are about us.  We can probably therefore feel the sting all the more when we see ourselves in the position of the rich, the ones who are full, the ones laughing and the ones spoken well of.   Woe to you says the Lord.  If we are to avoid the woe, we have to change our lives.

 

May the grace of this eucharist lift our minds to the things that are above.  May the Lord help us to see our lives from the divine perspective, and may He help us to put to death and to get rid of those things in our lives that are opposed to the kingdom.