18th Sunday Year C
August 4, 2013
ABAJO, ARRIBA, A DENTRO!
Hispanics use this all the time when celebrating (and eating and drinking) wih friends. They sound to me exactly like what the three readings today speak about.
The first reading, from Qoheleth, tells us what it means to be focused solely on the things of this world, on things and activities below – a bajo – here on this mortal earth. And what wisdom does he offer us? He says it’s all vanity. “Vanity of vanities!”
But just like friends toasting one another before a drink, we need to raise things to a higher level. Like Paul did. He counsels us to “seek what is above, not what is on earth.” He advises us to set our sights on the higher realities of life, not merely on things that are below. Arriba! This is what he tells us to do.
But there is more … In the Gospel passage from Luke, we are confronted with two brothers who apparently are wrangling about material goods. “Tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He probably was a little too preoccupied with things below, with money matters, with things that no one can take along to the after life.
The Lord calls his attention to something more, something nobler, something greater … He gently leads the complaining and resentful brother to go to the heart of things … to go to his center … to go deeper into the innermost recesses of his heart and discern whether that is really what he wanted above everything else, whether that is his real goal, and whether that is the end-all and be-all of his whole existence. He counsels the young man to check out whether he is truly “rich in what matters to God.”
Truth to tell, we are all inherently human, earthly, mortal, and material, even as we are all spiritual and called to greatness. We are citizens of this world, even as we are called to be citizens for heaven. As bodily beings, immersed as we are in earthly realities, and sometimes overwhelmed by the cares inherent in this material world, we often forget that we are not meant to be focused a bajo – down here below.
This is obvious in the curious things that seem to attract our attention daily: forced evictions of informal settlers everywhere, lavish birthday parties of individuals who happen to be connected with families who seem to be also connected with scams galore. And yet, on the other side of the fence, we see Maserati cars being unveiled, for the Philippines, they say, “have arrived!” It’s out turn now to drive around in Maseratis, Rolls Royces, and other luxury cars.
St. Paul has one additional advice for us. He tells us not to remain a bajo – down below, but to rise up higher … Arriba! And he tells us why … for we have bee raised with Christ. “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
There is hope for our country. That hope is you and me. But it does not come automatic. We need to reprogram ourselves. We need new APPS for life. And the killer APP that we all need is spelled A CENTRO or A DENTRO!
We need to look deep into ourselves and see what are our default programs. We need to see what values are in our keychains that boot our moral systems. For the bad news is that the original OS in our system booted us wrongly. ORIGINAL SIN, the primeval OS that ruined our system and made it so easily corruptible, is very much still working in the background.
We often stay a bajo – down in sinful culture and sinful behavior. But we can rise, go, and move up higher … ARRIBA! This is our rallying cry together with Paul who knew sin, who knew first hand what it meant to persecute the Lord.
I am intrigued by Rolls Royces and Maseratis of this world. I also am pulled by the desire for comfort, for material things, for gadgets and gizmos. I am pulled down by sin, and the very real tendency to sin.
But today, Sunday, at Mass with you and for you, I feel the pull of grace. I feel the call of God who lives in the heavens. He calls you and me. He pulls you and me up where we truly belong. Arriba!
But for us to really soar high. We need to go a centro. We need to go inward … a dentro … and meet God in the secrecy and privacy of our hearts, and walk with Him towards the heights … toward heaven that is our own true home. Amen!