Science has certainly given us an amazing progress with developments that touch, inform, and shape our daily lives. We are self impressed with all that has been discovered and made usable for us.

Yet, we have rarely thought through the consequences of this “progress”, our morality has not kept up, and the dignity of the human person has eroded. From the first reading,  “And scarce do we guess the things on earth,
 and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty.” The quest for power and control continuers, even often against our own best interests. We are a very shortsighted species.

While we pursue control, not good stewardship, over the natural world, even with much difficulty, the things of heaven are left behind. Again, from the Book of Wisdom, “but when things are in heaven, who can search them out? Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom
 and sent your holy spirit from on high?”

So enamored and bedazzled are we by material things (all bright, shiny objects = BSOs), that we forget to pursue as well the things of heaven. In these things we are a very impoverished people. Many Catholics have a theology of a second grader and a spirituality informed by American individualism.

kOur first reading this coming Sunday presents us with a sharp contrast in the two different levels of human pursuit: things below and things above. The wisdom of each surely has its place, but the ancients knew very well that the things above are more important, weighty, and valuable in their lives. , ανω και κατω, things above and things below is a persistent theme of ethic in the wisdom literature favored in the Hellenistic world just before and at the time of Jesus.

In some ways, our own age looks forward to the self-help industry and books, the variety of new age spiritualities, and cross cultural misappropriation of religious traditions. We take things out of the context of community and cultural to which they belong and we use them willy-nilly and individual. This is not helpful.

We desire straight paths, but our ways are unsure. We need to trust in the Lord, God’s wisdom, and divine grace. These are the elements too often left out of the picture.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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