My Dear Friends,
The second reading from the Letter to the Colossians goes well with the first reading and the Gospel. Those passages warn how useless material wealth will be when we die. St. Paul continues this warning by reminding us that we have already died with Christ in baptism and risen to new life. To live this new life we must put to death whatever tendencies keep us from Christ.
Wealth can be a gift from God. The abuse is not necessarily in the possession of wealth. More likely, we abuse wealth either in the ways we attain it or use it–or both. How do we abuse the attainment of wealth? I can give an obvious answer, such as robbing a bank, but this makes it too easy to justify myself. Do I work a full day for my pay, or do I spend a lot of time visiting with other employees, surfing the Web, taking extra-long breaks, or texting my friends? Am I honest with my customers, charging only for work I have done?
As for using our wealth, we usually think of family first. Do we spoil our kids, so they can “have the things I couldn’t afford when I was young”? Or do we teach them to work for what they get? Do we also think of the poor and homeless? Do we teach our children to be generous to others?
Notice that Paul does not mention wealth. Instead he goes deeper, pointing out the thoughts and desires that lead to a life centered in wealth. In baptism, we put to death passion and greed, tendencies that push us to own more or to control another person. Paul uses the image of taking off these vices as if they were clothing and putting on a new self that shows Christ in us. When we have been renewed that way, then Christ becomes visible in all people. We no longer have reason to look down on anyone for being poor or sickly or of another
race. We begin to see Christ in them, for as Paul says, “Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:11).
Father Patrick V. Kirsch, KHS