The Mass reading for today was from St Paul’s epistle to the Philippians and it’s a real corker.
For many, as I have often told you
and now tell you even in tears,
conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction.
Their God is their stomach;
their glory is in their “shame.”
Their minds are occupied with earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body
to conform with his glorified Body
by the power that enables him also
to bring all things into subjection to himself.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
whom I love and long for, my joy and crown,
in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved.
First of all, let’s be clear. He is talking about members of the church who are living according to worldly priorities. Not only are their “minds occupied with earthly things” but “their God is their stomach and their “glory” is in their shame.” In other words, these are people who say they are followers of Christ, but they live only for the things of this world and the appetites of the flesh.
There are three parts to this critique. The first is that their glory is in their shame. Seeing Catholics who actually defend and try to normalize abnormal and disordered, shameful sexual behavior seems to be what he’s getting at. What they should be ashamed of they celebrate. The second part is linked to this. “Their God is their stomach.”This is not only referring to gluttony, but to all the physical appetites of the flesh. Why do they behave like this? The third part gives the answer: “their mind is on earthly things.”
There are many things to concern us at this present time. Some people are upset that Joe Biden is winning. Others are delighted that Donald Trump is losing. OK. I get it. The policies that would come from one president or another are going to upset you or please you. But, in the end of the day, are our minds too occupied with earthly things? The next line is “But our citizenship is in heaven.”
The fact of the matter is, for most of us our day to day lives will not be affected very much by what goes on in the White House. Some policies may very well hit us hard or benefit us greatly. So it has always been. The politicians and fat cats will continue to grow richer and more powerful at our expense. So it has always been. Perhaps there will be war or civil war. Maybe things will become very bad and there will be persecution, hardship and even imprisonment, torture or death. It has happened many times in the past. It could happen here.
But in the midst of all the furore we are called for our minds not to be occupied with earthly things and to remember that our citizenship is in heaven. The Lord Jesus puts it another way:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy,[c] your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy,[d] your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Now I hear you wail, “But you don’t understand Father how terrible it is! It’s not that easy just mouthing pious Bible verses! You don’t seem to get it that the Democrats are stealing the election and we’re going to have Kamala Harris who is a socialist and the globalists are going to collapse the economy and bring a one world government.” or “You don’t understand how awful Donald Trump is. He is a tyrant who tears children from their parents and locks them up in cages. He is responsible for 235,000 deaths from COVID because of his incompetence. Don’t you understand that if he is elected we are on the way to a dictatorship!!”
I hear all that, but I also hear, “your citizenship is in heaven. Take no thought for tomorrow. Each day has troubles enough of its own. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and everything else will be added to you.”
If tomorrow is terrible then pray for the courage to stand up for the truth and do what is right no matter what the cost. If tomorrow is not terrible still. pray for the courage to stand up for the truth and do what is right no matter what the cost, and remember…
If you can solve a problem, get on and solve it. If you can’t do anything about it, don’t complain. Leave it in the Lord’s hands and roll up your sleeves and do what you can with what you have where you are.