Lectio: August 2004 Archives

Philippians 1:8-11

8: For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9: And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,
10: so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
11: filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Verse 8 gives a picture of Paul that belies what his critics would make him--stern, distant, nearly misanthropic. We hear and see Paul yearning for the companionship of those who love the Lord. How sweet it is to be with and among those who truly love the Lord. There is no better company, no better conversation than that which centers on the Lord himself and revolves around Him as the center. To what point any conversation that does not bring us closer to the Lord? Why talk at all if we are not yearning for the truth? Paul yearns for the support and comfort of being among those whose spirit is strong, whose faith is a bulwark against the ravages of the world. He longs to be once again among those who have most enthusiastically supported his mission in the world. And this yearning is natural for all of us. Our chief desire should be to be among those who love the Lord. And acting upon this desire, we should work to be certain that wherever we are, there are those who are ardent friends of the Lord. This, then, is part of the call to evangelism. Wherever there is love of the Lord, we are at home. We are called to leave home frequently and to make a new home wherever we should be brought. Our joy and delight is in the presence of the Lord and where people love Him, He is present. (For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Mt. 18:20)

Enough for the moment--I will extend reflection on these verses somewhat later. Scripture is indeed a fountain. A single verse of it can bring to mind the million things God wishes to tell the believer. However, I see little cause for you all to exposed to all the million things that run through my head. (That collective sigh of relief sounded like Charley at his peak.)

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Philippians 1:6-7

6: And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
7: It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

Paul, it seems, writes through time. I need to take his words personally and to internalize their relevance for me today. The letter to the Philippians is the perfect place to start doing this. I can imagine myself in one of the congregations, hearing rather than the usual Sunday Sermon, a letter. We do this often today with the Bishop's appeal. But imagine that you are sitting in the Church and a letter from a dear friend who has been whisked off to who knows what fate arrives. Imagine the excitement as you await to hear what it was that he said in the letter. And then, it is read. Right away you hear these words.

"I am sure that he who began a good work in you will see it to completion in the day of Jesus Christ." What a thrill it sends through you. God who has touched me will see to it that his touch does not go unregarded. He who began a good work in me will see it through. Admittedly this may not be without trial on my part. Nevertheless, I will be able to see the Lord complete a work. This is a promise, a word from one I trust--a word from one of the Holy Ones of God--reliable guidance, sure solace in time of trial.

And then he says to me, "It is right for me to feel thus about you all." Why should this be? Why should it be right? And a heartbeat later, "Because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partaker with me of grace. . ." Paul himself holds me in his heart because I am a descendant of his spiritual Fatherhood. Unlike Peter who practiced most of his apostleship within the bounds of his own people (though indeed he served as Shepherd for all of the people gathered to God), Paul was the apostle to the nations that had not known of the God of Abraham and Isaac. All of those of us who are not aware of any Jewish ancestry are descendants of the teaching of Paul, we are his children, the legacy he left to the entire world. As his children, we are held in his prayers before God and loved as children are loved. And more than that, we are brothers and sisters. becasue we are all "partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel."

As a people we are a living defense and confirmation of the gospel. We work presently as the conscience of a nation and the conscience of the world. We are the "angels" (messengers) of God's permanent and abiding grace--of the gift that is given and shall not be withdrawn from humanity. We are defenders of the gospel in that we hold to its truths as best we can in our weak understanding. We cling to the gospel message and to the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church. These teachings started with these early messages of the Apostles.

Rejoice O Child of God,
Rejoice O Child of Paul,

for the love of God
is confirmed again in the heart of a Saint
whose life on Earth and in Heaven
was a life of prayer for us.

His words echo
in the heart, in the world,
and gather all together
in a great ball that rolls toward eternity,
to the encompassing love of God.

Rejoice in our brother,
Rejoice in our spiritual father,
Rejoice in the God He proclaims,
in the gospel he announces,
in the faith he defends,
in his continued and joyous prayer for those of us
as yet confined to Earth.

Rejoice O people of the Lord,

Rejoice in His holy saints who give us such hope.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Lectio category from August 2004.

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