OUR SUNDAY VISITOR
Think of what is above
Reading II: Colossians 3:1-4
- Christ seated at the right hand of God
- Our life is hidden with Christ in God
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor
Feasting on the Word
Good news about the future
The Letter to the Colossians was written in part to help keep members of the early church loyal to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many early Christians, unsure of the future, were attracted to a variety of false teachings. Some claimed that individuals could gain special knowledge of future salvation. Others argued about the physical and spiritual state of Jesus. Others disagreed about who could be part of the early church. As Jesus did not return within a few years of his resurrection and ascension, there was increasing uneasiness about the future.Our church members today face a similar uneasiness. It has been many centuries, and Christ has not returned. Warnings of terrorism and economic downturn make members uneasy. People in our pews are unsure about what the future holds in their personal and professional lives. They look to those proclaiming the gospel for some good news about the future and for some insight into where they might look to find direction. Colossians 3 provides some direction. It helps us realize that part of our future is hidden from us by God. According to Colossians 3, our new life is “hidden with Christ in God.” The verb tenses in the Greek indicate what our life experience confirms, that the new life that God has accomplished for us in the past and will make clear in the future has not totally been revealed to us in the present. That can be frustrating when we are trying to figure out what comes next in our lives, but at least pastorally this realization removes some of the pressure from us to have all the answers now. While God guides and sustains us, how God’s providence and our actions interact is one of life’s mysteries of faith. It is comforting to read that the problem with our lack of clarity is not with us. It is not our inability to figure out God’s plan that keeps us unsure about the future. The Pauline author in Colossians explains that God has hidden part of the future from us. We have to rely on God in faith. We have to wait. We have to be patient.
SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B (12 Volume Set); David L. Bartlett (Editor); Copyright © 2011. Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
Our life is hidden in God
In the present our life is hidden with Christ in God. The reference to hidden can refer to "safety or secrecy." In fact, both are probably in view. Our life is doubly secure since it is with Christ in God. This is a comforting reminder of the truth found in John 10:28-29: no one can snatch the believer out of Jesus' hand or the Father's hand. The believer is secure. The term hidden (kekruptai) can also mean "concealed, unseen." This means that the believer's life is unknown or not understood by the watching world (compare 1 John 3:1-2). The unseen realities will be revealed. Paul now turns his attention to that glorious truth.
SOURCE: Content taken from Holman New Testament Commentary Series (12 Volume Set); Holman Reference Editorial Staff (Author); Copyright © 2001. Holman Reference. All rights reserved.
Understanding the Bible Commentary
Seek what is above
Above (i.e., heaven, cf. GNB), where Christ is seated at the right hand, should not be understood as some geographic place in the cosmos. The language here, as elsewhere (Matt. 6:20; Eph. 1:3; 2:6; 3:10), is figurative rather than literal; it designates a quality of existence, not a place of being. By above, Paul means that unseen realm of spiritual reality, the eternal world in contrast to a world that is earthly and transitory.Through baptism into Christ, the believer participates in that spiritual and eternal realm in which Christ has been exalted and enthroned (Eph. 1:20; Phil 2:9–11). This reminds the Colossians that they already share this exaltation with Christ. It is not merely a future inheritance, because “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).
SOURCE: Content taken from UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE COMMENTARY SERIES (36 Volumes); W. Ward Gasque, Robert L Hubbard Jr., Robert K Johnston (General Editors); Copyright © 2000. Baker Books. All rights reserved.
Life Recovery Bible
Col 3:1-4 The world doesn’t get any better just because we are in recovery! We still have to pay our bills, deal with people, and face the stressful changes that recovery can bring. There are pressures beyond our control that will tend to make us anxious or wear us down if we aren’t careful to protect ourself from the world’s onslaught.The apostle Paul gave us a strategy to help guard against the troubles of daily life. He wrote: “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth” (Colossians 3:2). The apostle also wrote: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). The idea of God guarding us from the evil we face in life is comforting. God’s peace is promised only if we routinely turn every worry and need over to him and develop a grateful attitude. When we turn our worries over to God’s care, we will discover his protection and experience the inner peace that passes all understanding. Thus, Paul isn’t urging us to deny the harsh realities of life; he is simply reminding us of where our focus should be. When our eyes are on Christ, we see this life from a different perspective. We realize that there is hope, even when everything seems dark and hopeless. As we look with an eternal perspective, the struggles of recovery don’t disappear; rather, they are seen in the proper light. They no longer have the terrifying power that they once did. When we keep our eyes on Christ and his promises for recovery, no obstacle is too great for us to overcome.
SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Life Application Study Bible
Seeking what God desires
Col 3:2, 3 “For you died” means that we should have as little desire for improper worldly desires as a dead person would have. The Christian’s real home is where Christ lives (John 14:2, 3). This truth provides a different perspective on our lives here on earth. To “set your minds on things above” means to look at life from God’s perspective and to seek what he desires. This provides the antidote to materialism; we gain the proper perspective on material goods when we take God’s view of them. It also provides the antidote to sensuality. By seeking what Christ desires, we have the power to break our obsession with pleasure and leisure activities. But it also provides the antidote to empty religiosity because following Christ means loving and serving in this world. Regard the world around you as God does; then you will live in harmony with him.
SOURCE: Content taken from LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE NOTES, Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
CATHOLIC BIBLE STUDY
Seek what is above
by Michal Hunt
In the Second Reading, St. Paul tells Christians about the implications of Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection for all of us. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we have died to our old sinful selves and raised out of the waters of baptism to a new life in Christ Jesus.
Sacrament of Baptism
Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we have died to our old sinful selves and are “raised up” out of our baptismal waters to a new life in Christ (also see Rom 5:9-10; Eph 2:5-6). Christians are reborn through water and the Spirit (Jn 3:3, 5), and by the Spirit’s presence within them, Christians enjoy not only a new life but also a new relationship with God. They are no longer children in the family of Adam but adopted children in the family of God. Christians are also heirs through Christ whose suffering they share in their earthly exile, knowing that they will have a share in His glory when they reached the end of their temporal lives or when He returns in glory (Rom 8:14-17; 2 Thes 4:16-17).
False attachment to material things of this world
The new life remains hidden while we continue in this temporal world, but it will be realized in its fullness when we join Christ in the life to come. St. Paul urges us to “think of what is above” or what is to come and to not focus on what is earthly and temporal (Col 3:2). The risen, living Christ is the source of our salvation, and He has freed us from the false attachments to the material things of this world. If we continue to only think of the pleasures of the temporal, we will lose sight of what is both glorious and eternal.
SOURCE: content taken from Michal E. Hunt at Agape Bible Study; used with permission. Section divisions and titles added.
Lisa St. Romaine
This section of Philippians is well-known. The challenge: to proclaim it anew, with amazement, pacing changes, and energy at the closing lines! Lisa has suggestions.
Lisa St. Romaine offers lector tips. She is married to Philip St. Romain, M.S., D. Min. Her videos are posted on her YouTube channel every Wednesday for Sunday.
Raised with Christ
Points to consider
I ask, and my listeners must also be asking themselves: Aren’t we celebrating the resurrection of Jesus today? Then what is this about our own resurrection?
It is important that I try to answer this question by the attention I pay to the apostle’s words. The Gospel passage will prompt us to reflect first on what happened to Jesus, and only secondarily on what that might mean for us.
The liturgy reminds us that our church is so closely identified with Christ in these Easter days. As the apostle says, we are already raised with Christ. I note a more intimate identification in the letter than I did in the reading from Acts.
Central point: We identify with Christ in our death, and so we will in our rising.
The message for our assembly is that we must continue to work for our salvation. All the New Testament was formed in the light of Easter. The discipline we began in Lent should continue all through the year. So we should seek what is above.
I will challenge myself: to make the words decisive for the assembly. You have died means that our lives have reached a finality from which there is no turning back.
SOURCE: LectorWorks.org; Used with permission
How our thoughts should change as a result of Jesus’ resurrection
Ask the presider to tell your listeners (or tell them yourself):
Saint Paul often writes about how Christ should influence our behavior. This passage is about how our thoughts should change, as a result of the resurrection of Jesus.
All through Lent, Holy Week and the Easter Vigil we’ve been hearing about change and newness that come from our relationship with Christ. In this reading, what we’re told to change what we think about: heavenly things as opposed to earthly things. Yes, that is quite vague, as are the details of how we will appear in glory.
Proclaiming the Passage
But the point is not to put a fine point on the details. Rather, communicate once again that we’re different because of Christ. Don’t worry about saying how we are different. Just use your voice, with lots of contrasting tones, to make a poetic statement about change. You’re poetic when the way you say things expresses the content of what you’re saying. So a person hearing you read this should have a very different experience from one who simply reads the same words to herself silently.
Alternate Second Reading Notes: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
By Grace You Have Been Saved
In the Book of Ephesians, St. Paul gives one of his most famous phrases, “By grace you have been saved.” And, without seeing the context of Paul’s use of this phrase, one can easily conclude that Paul is referring to being saved with regard to “final salvation,” and not being saved with regard to “initial salvation.” (This, of course, does not mean that it is not through grace that we achieve our final salvation, but, rather, that final salvation is outside of the scope of what Paul is speaking of in Ephesians 2:5).
Tim Staples — God’s Grace and Good Works
Ephesians 2:8-9: How can we understand the role of God’s grace in our good works? Tim Staples answers a caller on Catholic Answers Live.