Commented Bible Passages

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of 3 to 10 people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer.

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Seeking the Realities that Are Above: Colossians 3:1-4
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

At the beginning of this passage, St. Paul puts two statements together in an interesting way. He begins with something very strong: “You have been raised with Christ”. Here we see the sure, reliable, objective foundation of faith. Christ is risen; and by his grace, by faith in him, by baptism, this resurrection is ours too—and not just in the future after our death, but already here and now. Then he immediately adds a somewhat surprising call: You have been raised from the dead, and therefore what you are to do is not to “be strong”, not to “fear nothing”, nor to “proclaim the Gospel to all creation”, but to “seek”.

There are perhaps people who do not seek at all, because they are self-satisfied or lazy, or for lack of imagination. There are also people who seek and find something important, and no longer seek any more. They are satisfied with what they have found: for them it is enough as an answer to any possible question; now they have arrived. And then there is an opposite sort of people, who like to search a little too much; for them, it is always better to travel than to arrive; any truth or solid commitment is suspect in their eyes—it may hinder their freedom; they can end up floating all the time without direction. The Gospel, on the other hand, invites us on the invigorating journey where we rejoice in what we have found, and this pushes us to seek again, to go further and further.

Searching is an active attitude, not a passive one. It is positive, even optimistic, because we are not going to seek unless we believe we can succeed in our search. It is an attitude of hope. And it is also a humble attitude. It is humble because to search I have to say to myself, “I haven’t grasped everything yet.”

It is interesting that Paul refers to realities that are hidden or that cannot be grasped: “seek the things that are above” and “your life is now hidden with Christ”. He says this not so much to encourage sophisticated theological speculation or a search for special mystical experiences. It is perhaps rather to remind us that, even if our faith connects us with truly profound and extraordinary realities, very often our own experience or our understanding of these things is not at all on the same level. We know that Christ has risen, and he is our joy. But at the same time, most of us sometimes or even very often experience a sense of poverty, doubts, weaknesses, uncertainties. Perhaps this is necessary, to prevent us from falling into the trap of people who think that they have arrived and that they have understood everything.

But it is precisely this poverty, these weaknesses and doubts that can stimulate us to “seek”. The “things that are above” which Paul is talking about are not necessarily very far away, although they can never be fully grasped. There is a dimension of things—not distant, but different—where the ordinary criteria do not count. There, what is important is not the satisfaction of our desires or wishes, nor efficiency in carrying out this or that good project. There, the only criterion is Christ who remained faithful unto death. There, in the end, the only things that really count are trust, hope and love. For there is Christ, “seated at the right hand of God”. The meaning of this image is that, by inviting Christ to sit at his right hand, God demonstrates his support, as we do with someone whom we love and approve of; we are on their side. In this dimension of things, which for the moment is invisible, God has already shown that what really counts is all that Jesus expressed through his life.

If, simply and humbly, we seek to live according to this dimension, according to what counts in the eyes of God rather than our ordinary values, we have a life that is “hidden with Christ”, which one day will turn out to be our true life.

- Am I someone who likes to seek or rather someone who is satisfied with what I have already found?

- Have I experienced moments or periods of assurance in my life of faith? What about moments of doubt or uncertainty? What helps me through uncertainties? Have these moments taught me anything?

- Have I understood what really matters in the eyes of God?

Other bible meditations:

Printed from: - 21 October 2020
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