Monday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 485

If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.

I always hear this passage from Saint Paul's Letter to the Philippians as a preamble leading into his song. It's like that moment in "South Pacific" when you know the speaker is about to start singing, "Some enchanted evening...." 

Saint Paul's four clauses beginning with "if there is any..." are so beautiful and so demanding, they must lead into a song which will satisfy, at least artistically, this longing. It's a very personal exhortation. He is saying "If you love me, complete my joy...." And he speaks with great confidence to his Philippian friends, with the assurance of their affection. They would do anything for their Apostle. 

The demand might be too much to ask without the "Song of the Kerygma" that follows. We might be frustrated by his laying such expectation upon us but when we hear, "though he was in the form of God...." we know we are gazing with him into the depths of an unfathomable mystery. 

In fact, though he seems to speak to us about his expectation, he is actually peering into the Heart of Jesus and saying, "Look with me." He is not looking at us with an expectation of disappointment, as a parent might look upon an unruly child when he says, "Do this because you love me." Paul's satisfaction is flowing into him from the mystery of Jesus; he is not at all disappointed. He is simply thinking out loud about the healing, consoling, forgiving, empowering sacrifice of Jesus. He is saying, "Look what this mystery can do for you and me as we gaze on him." 

This is beyond comprehension and yet we comprehend it. "Yes," we say, "there are encouragement in Christ, solace in love, participation in the Spirit, compassion and mercy" if only we permit ourselves to be possessed and consumed by the humility of Jesus. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.