Seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God, writes Saint Paul to the Colossians. Set your mind on the things above, not on those of the earth.
These phrases could be understood superficially as an invitation to look down upon the value of material things that we are in contact with everyday.
Do we have to set our minds on the things that are above and detach our attention from all the rest? Do we have to separate ourselves from engagement with the things of the world, from the enjoyment of the many possibilities of life, from economy and from politics, from art and from culture? There are those who interpret Saint Paul in this way, pointing towards a form of spiritualism which refuses contact with the material nature of our existence. The only thing that really counts is eternal life, and for this reason, we distance ourselves from all the rest because it distracts us from what is most authentic.
This is not what Saint Paul and the Church teach. On the contrary, it is precisely because the only thing that really counts is eternal life, that everything in this life is significant.
To better understand this, Don Luigi Giussani translated the word above with the word within. Eternal life is the truth of this life, he would say. That Christ is sitting on the right hand of God means that “he has placed himself intimately at the root of all things”. “Christianity,” he would add, “is the beginning of eternity within the experience of common man in the world; it is the experience of a man who tends to the eternal, who perceives the dawn of the eternal within himself. He understands that, from within his existence, eternal truth or full and eternal happiness are tangible and are the real content of present experience”.
Everything acquires value precisely because all will be preserved. Without the prospective of eternity, things become empty and lose their significance. It is not enough to say as the poet Terenzio, “I am man”, in order to affirm that nothing of that which is human is alien to us. If man finishes in nothingness, everything that exists in reality would be foreign to him.
In light of eternity, instead, everything has life and significance: from all of our public relationships to our most intimate experiences. If life is eternal, it is worth already living friendships to the full: the love for your wife and for your children. The pride of belonging to one’s own land and one’s own people are  beautiful for they strengthen man’s identity and open him up to the world and to others. Man’s work to better his personal conditions and those of the world is noble. The work of politics to conserve peace and to contribute to the path that guarantees everyman his full dignity is just. Man’s love for the Church, with its wounds and its glory, is true. Man’s necessary sacrifices in order to educate new generations to that which is beautiful and pure are meaningful. Man’s passion to cultivate a taste for music, for literature and for all forms of art, is good.
If life is eternal, the many requests we make to God, the promises, the forgiveness asked and obtained, the gratitude expressed in prayer, the wonder experienced for the closeness of God, have all great significance. If life is eternal, the habit of praying with the saints can be a real experience, full of trust, a shared experience of common sensibilities, a constant help implored and received.
All of this will not be destroyed by death: it will be our inheritance forever.

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