Scripture: Lectionary 484. Philippians 1:18-26. Psalm 42:2.3.5. Luke 14:1.7-11:
Paul is totally dedicated to his apostolic mission which is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations and to witness to the faith that he is nurturing in so many Christian communities. He sees the urgency of this mission and also realizes his mortality. What would be best? To be with the Lord or to keep ministering to God’s people. It seems he chooses to continue what he is doing and to hint that being with God’s people is more urgent. What a generous offer on his part. He does not wish to retire even though for him that means being in Heaven!
Paul wants to strengthen the faith of the Philippians by his actual presence and preaching. He wants them to be firmly rooted in faith and in the salvation offered to them by Jesus in his death and resurrection.
Our Psalm 42 and its chosen verses captures the spirit of Paul’s desire and prayer. If God is calling him, he will respond to that call and be with the Lord. If God wants him to remain, he will do so for the sake of the Mystical Body of Christ visibly manifested in the Philippians. He prays like the Psalm : “Athrist is my soul for the God, the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God.”
This expression of beholding the face of God is in our Eucharistic Prayer and resonates with what Paul is saying. (Eucharist Prayer 1). We all like box seats at a baseball game, but that belongs to the privileged and those who can afford them. Jesus watches those who seek the front seats at an invitation and hurry and scurry to obtain them. He uses this frenzy of moving bodies as a teaching moment.
Patiently looking and listening to their trying to get the top seats at table he brings them back to politeness and hospitality rules of his day—and ours! The honor of being at the head table belongs to the desire and choice of the host who has invited many to the dinner. It is he who chooses the ones who are to be first as guests of honor. Jesus patiently waits and says, “Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” With this saying, “ Luke gives secular wisdom a theological orientation: God will not be fooled by one’s self promotion.” (Fr.Karris, N.J.B.C. p. 706). Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.