Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan
GREAT LENT: DAY 15
“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4
In the previous week, on Day 4 of the Great Lenten season, we revisited with the Apostle Paul on one of the great sacraments of the Christian faith — baptism. Through baptism, the old self dies, and a new life arises in Christ. In today’s reading, the Apostle reminds us that through our baptism, after being buried with Christ and resurrected in Him, our minds also must change their focus. We no longer are shackled by sin, instead, we are free and live in Christ Jesus. Having resurrected with Jesus Christ, we must all the more renew the course of our lives and communion with our God.
The Apostle guides us in the verse above by showing that this renewal takes place when we “direct our minds on the things above.” During the Divine Liturgy, the deacons exhort the people to “lift up your minds.” In other Christian traditions, it is formulated in this way, “lift up your hearts.” This has then become grounds on which the church fathers have formulated their prayers within the best framework to say, “Prayer is the directing or lifting up the heart and the mind to God.” This is also an important beginning to claim victory for our inner thoughts. Our hearts and mind ought to move in the same direction towards the heavens, otherwise, there will arise an internal conflict. When the heart of the person desires one thing and the mind another, it becomes very difficult to make a decision. In order to experience internal peace, our good thoughts ought to penetrate to the depths of our heart, then our heart and mind together can aim towards God.
The question then arises: how do we direct our hearts and minds towards pondering and seeking the things above? The Apostle addresses this question in this same letter to the Colossians. Only a few lines later he says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” (Colossians 3:16) Indeed, we must keep the word of God alive in our hearts and minds, in order for us to be able to live prudently, pray with wisdom, and through gratitude praise God.
Therefore, come and let us live our lives with our hearts and minds directed towards the heavenly things, as the deacons exhort us, “through divine reverence let us direct our minds above.” Then we may respond from the depth of our hearts saying, “All-powerful Lord, our hearts and minds look to you.”