bible blog 281

This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church

Reading 1, Philippians 1:1-11

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with their presiding elders and the deacons. 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God whenever I think of you, 4 and every time I pray for you all, I always pray with joy 5 for your partnership in the gospel from the very first day up to the present. 6 I am quite confident that the One who began a good work in you will go on completing it until the Day of Jesus Christ comes.

7 It is only right that I should feel like this towards you all, because you have a place in my heart, since you have all shared together in the grace that has been mine, both my chains and my work defending and establishing the gospel. 8 For God will testify for me how much I long for you all with the warm longing of Christ Jesus; 9 it is my prayer that your love for one another may grow more and more with the knowledge and complete understanding 10 that will help you to come to true discernment, so that you will be innocent and free of any trace of guilt when the Day of Christ comes, 11 entirely filled with the fruits of uprightness through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God.

Philippi-a Roman city

Philippi was an older city rebuilt by the Romans as a place for ex-servicemen to colonise. Something of esprit de corps seems to have survived in the culture of the city, creating a warmth of personal and group relationship which is reflected in Paul’s letter to them. Paul celebrates their partnership in the gospel-a good translation of the Greek koinonia which comes from business vocabulary. This was a very real partnership as the Philippian church continued to support him financially in his work elsewhere, for example in Corinth and Ephesus, where he was imprisoned. I judge that the “chains” belong to Paul’s long stay in Ephesus rather than to Rome. The Philippians are for Paul a great example of the multinational partnership which is his vision of the church. It’s noticeable that whereas Paul attacks “knowledge” when it indicates arrogance towards other believers, in this case he prays for knowledge, understanding and discernment as the fruits of mutual love. Faith and love are fundamental to partnership in the gospel, but growth in wisdom is to be expected. Churches today should take this seriously.

For Jesus, healing is a necessity

Gospel, Luke 14:1-6

1 Now it happened that on a Sabbath day he had gone to share a meal in the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. 2 Now there in front of him was a man with dropsy, 3 and Jesus addressed the lawyers and Pharisees with the words, ‘Is it against the law to cure someone on the Sabbath, or not?’

4 But they remained silent, so he took the man and cured him and sent him away.

5 Then he said to them, ‘Which of you here, if his son falls into a well, or his ox, will not pull him out on a Sabbath day without any hesitation?’

6 And to this they could find no answer.

It seems that Jesus’ defence is traditional. Works of necessity were permitted on the Sabbath, as with the kind of accidents he refers to. His point is that the man’s dropsy is just as much an emergency as any accident. Their wrongness is not so much overestimation of the Sabbath as underestimation of human suffering.

It’s easy to decry the Pharisees; less easy perhaps to interrupt Sunday worship to attend to a homeless person.

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