THINK OF WHAT IS ABOVE

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Today’s scriptures present us with both sobering and uplifting thoughts.  The ancient author Qoheleth reminds us of the transitory nature of all earthly realities.  Jesus warns in the Gospel that earthly wealth does not guarantee life—least of all eternal life.  These thoughts are sobering because they remind us of realities that are often obscured by comfort and complacency.  That is not to say that success and wealth are bad things. In fact, there are scriptures which speak of them as blessings from God.  In today’s Responsorial Psalm we pray: “And may the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours; prosper the work of our hands for us! Prosper the work of our hands!”  We should pray for success and for what we need to prosper—that we may use our gifts, talents and resources for good.

The problem comes when wealth or prosperity become ends in themselves.  This is greed or avarice, one of the seven capital sins. It is against this that Jesus warns, when he says in today’s Gospel: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”  The parable he tells illustrates this. The man in the parable is called foolish not because he is wealthy, but because he hoarded his wealth all for himself, as though it would solve all his problems. Since one’s eternal destiny lies with God and not with earth, with what treasure would the rich man stand before God?  When we leave this world it is the value of our character—virtue—and not the value of our estate that we will take with us.

Saint Paul complements this teaching in today’s Second Reading, when he says: “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth… Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:  immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.” Because we have been raised to new life with Christ in baptism and purchased by his redemptive sacrifice, we must constantly seek to be renewed in the image of our Creator and reflect the new self we have become in Christ.

A week after St. Peter’s Shin-Dig we had a beautiful evening for the St. Charles Parish Picnic.  Thanks to all the organizers and workers for both events and to all who attended.

For some years now the first Sunday in August has been observed as Peace Day in our diocese.  It is observed on this date because of its proximity to the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, which led to the end of World War II.  It is an unfortunate reality of human history that peace comes at a great price, especially in lives lost. Today we find this to be true again.

Prayer for peace is very ancient, necessary because of the bellicose nature of human beings intent upon subduing “the enemy” who may possess natural resources; more productive land; or simply a different race, culture or religion.  In the liturgy the Communion Rite is full of prayers for peace: after the Lord’s Prayer, in the Sign of Peace, in the Lamb of God.  The personal exchange of a sign of peace before communion is reflected in the words of the popular hymn:  “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” The prayer before the Sign of Peace recalls Jesus’ farewell words to his disciples at the Last Supper:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27) May the prayers for peace, which are so prevalent in the liturgy, be prayed with a little more fervor today.

As we begin this week with the diocesan observance of Peace Day, let us again pray the Rosary for peace throughout the world.  Let us pray for all victims of violent crimes and for the conversion of those who look to violence to achieve their ends. Pray also for good weather, and for protection from damaging storms and floods.

May God bless his people with peace.

Monsignor Gorman