What’s important
to us?

Brothers and sisters: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Paul is advising the Colossians to be single-minded and to concentrate on the great gift they had received; something we all need to hear. We belong to Jesus. He is our treasure. He is greater than anything we could possibly acquire. We belong to heaven and Jesus deserves our total attention. Yet we get so distracted. That is what happened to the man who came to Jesus. The man wanted Jesus to resolve a family dispute over inheritance.

The man was not asking for advice. He wanted Jesus to stand on his side and “tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” He wanted Jesus to get the money for him, but Jesus saw the true problem in his heart – it was his focus. The man made money his priority even though he was standing in the presence of God. He could have asked any question, he could have asked for anything – healing, life, understanding, and a heart for God.

Jesus uses the opportunity to teach about priorities and the danger of misplaced priorities; of losing focus.

Look at Jesus’ story of distraction. The farmer is a happy man – a rich man – with a great harvest. He likely felt blessed by God. He so enjoyed being successful and rich. Suddenly he is looking forward to more – “And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”

In his happiness he lost focus. He allowed the good he received to consume him. The blessings now became the priority and he forgot the source of the blessing. Bigger barns and enjoying blessings were his “soul” goal.

For the farmer everything was fine and good until he is confronted by the reality of God’s dominion and his misplaced priorities. God takes account of our priorities and focus. “God said to him, ’You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.’”

God reset the farmer’s perspective. In his misdirected focus the farmer only made plans for this life but not for what is to come. God was in his life but he ignored Him.

These moments, this scripture, is an opportunity for us. We can rejoice in the blessings we have but must keep our eye on their source. Jesus wants us to see things in the right perspective. He gives us eternal riches that must always be accounted for and tended to first. God wants us to enjoy life with Him as our most important priority.

Reflection for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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I can’t help myself.
Isn’t it ok?

“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

The theme of our readings and gospel all center on doing things for the right reason, having the right priorities. They obviously focus on avoiding greed as the antithesis of proper living, “…the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?

As Christians we are to guard against placing our priorities wrongly. As we reflect on Carson’s baptism, we should recall our baptism. We descended into the waters of baptism, dying to the world and buried. Emerging we came into new life in the resurrected Christ. As people living in the resurrected Christ we have new priorities.

St. Paul says this plainly: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. He reminds us that our focus must be changed – and we need to be reminded because we forget: If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.

The problem we face in setting priorities as Christians is how far and how fast we need to go in re-ordering our reasons, focus and priorities.

Can we find a word that simply expresses the overwhelming love and dedication we are supposed to have for Jesus Christ? It has to be a word that describes a love and dedication that is more than something that just bubbles under the surface, but rather radiates out of us, making our lives evidently different to all those we meet. Perhaps the right word is “crazy?” Crazy can mean mentally deranged; demented; insane; senseless; impractical; totally unsound. It can also mean intensely enthusiastic; passionately excited.

So how do we get to the kind of crazy that shows an enthusiastic and passionate life with Christ? It starts with commitment and practice. Baptism is the first step in commitment and dedication. From there, with the help of our parents, we practice – in Church, by reading scripture, and in regular prayer – learning Jesus’ way, focusing on educating ourselves about Jesus’ direction for our life, and working in community to do His will. With that education and practice we learn to live the right way and with the right priorities.

When we get to the kind of crazy that radiates passions in line with Jesus’ priorities we become restorers of hope in the midst of our families, workplaces, neighborhoods, and in the wider world. We find that we cannot help ourselves in a way that is absolutely ok – more that ok – it is wonderful. It is crazy right.