Set Your Mind on the Mind of Christ
The COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, mask mandates, social distancing, reopening (partial and full) and current rise of cases, have certainly revealed to us over the last 2 ½ years that the things of this world, and even life itself, are transitory. In addition to the pandemic, gun violence is on the rise. There have been over 300 mass shootings so far this year. Mass shootings are defined, as four or more people — not including the shooter — are injured or killed. They have averaged more than one per day so far this year. Not a single week in 2022 has passed without at least four mass shootings. The Chicago statistics on gun violence include the 336 homicides to date in which the victims are often young, black males.
These number of incidences have us crying out like the Psalmist, “Oh Lord! How long?” This is a cry from a community in distress. It indicates that the people think God is either not hearing them or taking too long to answer their prayers. In these challenging times of COVID-19 and mass shootings, it would be easy to get discouraged and start to wonder if things will ever get better. There seems no place that is safe from hurt, harm, and danger. It would be easy to wish we could just escape to some heavenly realm, and it would be easy to hear today’s readings as encouraging that. However, the psalmist tells us that a thousand years are like a day to the Lord. There is a gospel song, On Time God, that says, “God may not come when you want him. But he’ll be there right on time.” No matter what we are going through we have the blessed assurance that God will show up in God’s timing. We must not lose hope. The readings today remind us what we are called to have hope in.
The reading from Colossians captures the vision of Christian hope. As Christians, we live in Christ, and the Christian promise without equivocation or doubt is that Christ will return to the earth. Also, the promise that we who have died to self will appear with Christ in glory.
Still, this is one of the great mysteries of our faith. The already and not yet. Christ came with a mission, and he fulfilled his role in the mission and won us the victory. We are called as church to fully actualize that mission—to proclaim good news to the poor, to free the oppressed, to share in bringing Christ’s mission of the Kingdom of God to full fruition when he will return, and we will share in his glory. Colossians also provides us direction for how we might do this. It will be in relationship with Christ, and we will sit by his side and see the world as he sees it. Through our relationship, we will put on the eyes of God and know how to act as God’s hands, feet, and voice in the world.
It is interesting to look at both the reading from Ecclesiastes and the Gospel reading in this context. What throws the author of Ecclesiastes into an existential crisis—what is the point of doing anything? The writer of Ecclesiastes warns that focusing our life on amassing things (money, material possessions, etc.) is transitory and in the end, those things will not be a source of happiness.
The Gospel of Luke reminds us that a life well-lived for God is more than storing up material goods for ourselves. The rich man in Jesus’ story died before he could begin to use what he had stored up in his big barns.
These readings challenge us to think beyond personal goals and personal satisfactions and to direct everything we have been given for the building up of the Kingdom of God. Be intentional in our relationship with Christ. Sit at his right hand. Constantly look at the world through the eyes of God and ask Jesus, where do you need me? What’s next? How can I better serve your mission? With God at our side, that work will never be in vain or meaningless.