SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, BISHOP AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH (MEMORIAL)
Seek what is above.
“Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” So remarked the physician-poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. He was taking to task those Christians who spend so much time musing on lofty “spiritual” matters that they neglect the call to love their neighbor. Yet the parables of the Good Samaritan and the sheep and the goats reveal how seriously Jesus takes the call to do earthly good (Luke 10:29-37; Matthew 25:31-46).
So how do we follow Paul’s admonition to “seek what is above” (Colossians 3:1) and still pay attention to the very real needs of people who live “down here” on earth?
Actually, to ask that question is to miss the larger point in today’s first reading. As he does in every other letter, Paul captures here the “both/and” of the Christian life. It is our experience of being raised up with Christ that moves us to care about what goes on in the world. It’s because we are in touch with “what is above” that we want to “put to death” the selfishness that keeps us from reaching out to feed the hungry and comfort the troubled (Colossians 3:1, 5).
The truth is, the closer we get to Jesus, the more we’ll find our priorities falling in line with his priorities. This, in fact, is the witness of so many saints. St. Vincent de Paul and St. Teresa of Calcutta are just two examples of people who knew that following Jesus meant allowing his Spirit to send them out to care for those in need. You probably know other “saints” who have done similar things.
That same Spirit wants to send you out as well. He wants to help you discover the face of the Lord in the weak and vulnerable, even as you seek his heavenly glory.
Doing earthly good? That’s an important part of being heavenly minded! It’s so important that without it, you risk losing sight of heaven. But with it, you not only find the joy of heaven—you also play a part in Jesus’ plan to bring heaven down to earth!
“Jesus, thank you for raising me up to be with you. Thank you also for helping me find you in the people all around me.”
Psalm 145:2-3, 10-13