Seeking What Is Above, Wednesday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time (I), September 11, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Wednesday of the 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Year I
12th Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks of 9/11
September 11, 2013
Col 3:1-11, Ps 145, Lk 6:20-26

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click here: 


The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • On today’s 12th anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks of 9/11, God speaks to us in his word in a moving way. He tells us through St. Paul in the first reading, “If you were raised with Christ,” and we have been through baptism, “then seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” This is the epistle reading for Easter Sunday morning, a powerful reminder for us that we’re not made for this world, but we’re made for God, we’re made for risen life. And we pray that the thousands who died on this day 12 years ago, on the planes, in the Towers, at the Pentagon and elsewhere, are experiencing that risen life.
  • Jesus in the Gospel likewise adds “Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep” and “Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.” 12 years ago there were parties in certain parts of the world celebrating the destruction of innocent human life and there was great grieving and weeping in most of the rest of the world, especially among the families whose loved ones never came home. But Jesus teaches us today that that’s not the end of the story. Those who do evil, who laugh over it, will one day have to answer for it. And those who suffer evil with a good conscience, and those who mourn in a redemptive way, will have their tears turned to joy. That is what gives us great hope today, and great consolation.
  • But let’s open ourselves to the fuller sense of the Word of God today, because it is so powerful and is meant not merely to influence the way we prayerfully mark this anniversary but change our entire life. St. Paul is calling us to seek the things that are above, to seek the things of Christ. Jesus in the Gospel, in his restatement of the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Plain, shows us how to seek what he seeks. He wants us to become spiritually poor, hungry, so sensitive and loving of others we grieve, and to live a type of life that will bring down hatred, exclusion, insults and denunciations for our goodness, just like his life did. He wants us not only to know the beatitudes but to live them, telling us that this is the way to eternal happiness in his kingdom.
  • That doesn’t happen by osmosis. It happens by deliberate choice in response to God’s grace. St. Paul tells us today that if we’re really going to seek the things that are above, we need to “put to death,” to execute, the parts of us that are earthly. And then he names them. We need to mortify, to kill, within us unchastity, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed, anger, fury, malice, slander, obscene language, lying and other sins. We need to put to death in us whatever kills us spiritually, whatever keeps us from looking upward to God. This requires heroism, the same type of heroism we see in Jesus, the martyrs, the saints, and the heroic men and women who gave their lives on United 93 to save others’ lives on the ground, or who ran into burning towers, or who stood in line for hours to give blood, or who sacrificed themselves in so many other ways. The Lord is calling us today to that same courage in life.
  • The Mass helps us to seek the things that are above. The expression, “Lift up your hearts,” during the Preface to the Eucharist Prayer is meant to become the imperative that influences our entire life. Today let us lift up our hearts to God and ask him for the grace to put to death whatever will keep us from seeking what Christ seeks, and experiencing forever the joy where those who us who have journeyed with him through the valley of tears will laugh and rejoice forever!

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
COL 3:1-11

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.Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.
By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.
But now you must put them all away:
anger, fury, malice, slander,
and obscene language out of your mouths.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator.
Here there is not Greek and Jew,
circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;
but Christ is all and in all.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 145:2-3, 10-11, 12-13AB

R. (9) The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. The Lord is compassionate toward all his works.

LK 6:20-26

Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.
For their ancestors treated the prophets
in the same way.

But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
But woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”