St. Paul, St. Thomas, MC Hammer

The Father has made us fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones…and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.

So wrote St. Paul to the Colossians. And the Apostle certainly meant this assurance for us, too: We Christians baptized into the ineffable mystery of Jesus.

St. Thomas Aquinas comments on these two verses:

Some people have said that the gifts of grace are given because of a person’s merit, and that God gives grace to those who are worthy, and does not give grace to those who are unworthy. But this view is rejected by the Apostle, because whatever worth and grace we have was given to us by God… [As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:] ‘Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our sufficiency is from God.’

Regarding the phrase the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, St. Thomas writes:

A more literal translation of this phrase would read: ‘the kingdom of the Son of his love’…. ‘Love’ is understood to indicate the divine essence. Thus the phrase, ‘of the Son of his love’… the Son has the essence of the Father. [As Christ says in St. John’s gospel]: ‘The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.’

The infinite Triune love is God’s gift to us, and to share in it is our destiny. This whole passage of Colossians is an act of thanksgiving, just like a Mass is an act of thanksgiving—the act of thanksgiving. As MC Hammer put it: “Makes me say oh my Lord, Thank you for blessing me with a mind to rhyme and two hype feet.”

Seek the Above

Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. (Colossians 3:2)

From time immemorial, man has conceived of three levels. 1) Here—the observable cosmos. 2) Up. 3) Down.

Here: the earth, the universe…day-by-day life with baseball games and back-to-school sales and train wrecks and summer movies. This level involves constant change, time passing, uncertainty, potential (that can be fulfilled or not), injustice lurking in every corner, fleeting pleasures, the possibility of a steak being good or bad, etc.

In the Name of the Father...
In the Name of the Father…
In other words, nothing on this level is sure, nothing absolutely permanent. Twinkies may or not be available in the future. It might rain tomorrow; it might not. This level has excitement. But Fate is fickle. It would be nice if the Redskins went to the playoffs this year. But they might not.

On the other hand, the other two levels—the upper and the lower—they are more stable. Their realities endure.

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Bringing God’s Word to Completion

Iron Butterfly

St. Paul wrote to the Colossians:

I am a minister of the Body of Christ…to bring to completion for you the word of God. (1:25)

To bring the word of God to completion for you.

Now, in this letter, it seems that St. Paul was addressing a largely non-Jewish audience. In other words, a confused and deluded, formerly pagan audience. At the beginning of the letter, the Apostle gave them a vivid image by which they can understand reality. To summarize:

The Creator made all things through His eternal Word, Who is now made man, Jesus. Jesus gives the universe and history its center. His resurrection began the final fulfillment of God’s original purpose in creating the world. Everything has been made to serve as a kind of choir, giving praise to the eternal glory of the Maker. Christ sings the first voice of the choir, by the entirety of His life. All the rest of the music proceeds from Him, as we strive to harmonize.

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Back-to-Work Week

Why does the Lord bless the hungry and curse the satisfied? Why does He afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted?

St. Paul has a good answer when he exhorts us: “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father.”

The Lord has promised us that if we seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, then all that we need to survive will be added unto us, also. But we cannot expect great surfeits of earthly delight. Just the survivable minimum.

To seek the ‘above’ things requires significant investments of time and energy. God demands a lot. He leaves the spiritually slothful to fester in their ennui. Meanwhile, He beckons His friends to daily encounters with Him in austere silence and in self-sacrificing labor.

Christ blesses the hungry not because He wills that anyone starve, but because when we concentrate on what He commands us to concentrate on, we quickly run out of time and leisure for settling into a lot of long banquets.

He blesses those who weep not because He wants anyone to feel bad, but because loving God a little allows us to see how much more we could love Him, if only the heartbreaking dunghill of our sin weren’t in the way.

Christ’s curses of the lazy, concupiscent, and proud help to keep us on-task. And His promises shine brighter than His curses. If we seek Christ seated at the right hand of the Father, we will ultimately be comforted, we will ultimately be satisfied, we will laugh in the kingdom of everlasting joy.

He sits above the clouds, where it never rains on Labor Day. He grills steaks to perfection without any fussing over charcoal and lighter fluid. We will have an endless temperate summer evening, without gnats and mosquitoes, when our work here is done.

In the meantime, let’s get ready to put our noses to the grindstone for the Lord. We have to get ourselves ready to say our parts of the Mass in more formal English. We have to educate our young people in our religion. We have to welcome and indoctrinate newcomers to our church. Between now and Christmas we are hardly going to have a free moment.

But we will have a good time working for the Lord, staying spiritually lean and mean. Working for God is more satisfying than sitting around watching soap-operas. May we glorify Him in our prayers and our deeds.