Once Alienated Now Reconciled (Wed. Oct. 28)

The word of the day is “alienated.”  In our reading of Colossians 1:18-23, St. Paul proclaims that Christ has “made peace through the blood of His cross” (vs.20).  Why did it take the suffering of the Cross for the Father to “reconcile all things to himself”? Why couldn’t some sweet words of His lovingkindness have accomplished it? Why couldn’t our Heavenly Father have declared his unmerited forgiveness of sinners without such the shedding of the Lord’s blood? Theologians have wrestled with these questions throughout the centuries.  In our reading, St. Paul refers to the “human condition” to give one answer.  He states, “you… were once were alienated and enemies [of God] in your mind by wicked works…” (vs. 21).  Paul…

Offerings: a Means of Expressing Devotion (Mon. Oct. 26)

The word of the day is “gift.”  St. Paul closes our reading of the Philippians with our reading of Chapter 4:10-23.  This passage is a skillfully written thank you note for the generosity of Paul’s favorite congregation. To conclude his letter, Paul expresses his exuberant gratitude for the gift of monetary support that the Philippians have sent.  Somehow something must have held up that donation’s arrival.  But Paul graciously overlooks the delay.  The Philippians “lacked the opportunity,” he writes (vs. 10).  But now Paul is pleased that their concern for him has blossomed like the flowers of spring. Accomplishing Everything Through Christ Yet Paul wants his favorite congregation to know that the important thing is not his need.  He knows…

The Origin and Nature of Holy Tradition (Sun. Oct. 25)

The Word of the Day is “revelation.”  In our reading of Galatians 1:11-19 today, St. Paul defends His Gospel message, “But I make known to you, brethren that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ (vs. 11-12).  These words refer to the origin of Holy Tradition as The Orthodox Study Bible notes, “Apostolic tradition is grounded in divine revelation from Jesus Christ” (OSB fn. on 1:11,12). But what was the revelation?  It was not a bound book drifting down from heaven or a discourse dictated by an angel.  According to 2 Peter, “we [the apostles] did not follow…

Prayer Participates in God’s Work (Sat. Oct. 24)

The word of the day is “deliverance.”  In our reading of 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, St. Paul writes that God has delivered “us” from some unnamed peril.  Some believe that the Apostle refers to the menace of his adversaries in Ephesus (1 Cor. 6:9).  But Paul’s story is filled with plots, threats, slanders, imprisonments, beatings, illnesses, and shipwrecks.  He was lost at sea, in frequent danger from robbers, and even stoned (2  Cor. 11:25).  But if Paul divulges the sense of danger and distress in this unidentified incident, it is only to emphasize his deliverance. In Dire Straits The word “trouble” is too weak for what Paul endured. At its root, the Greek word for “trouble” is “to be pressured” or…

To Gain Christ (Fri. Oct. 23)

The word of the day is “gain.”   In our reading of Philippians 3:8-19, St. Paul states, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” (3:8). But this lofty statement begins in the middle of the Apostle’s thought. Paul has railed against the Judaizers who are promoting circumcision to bind believers to the Mosaic Law.  Like them, he says he once entrusted his salvation to his circumcision and obedience to the Law of Moses. He lists his credentials as a “Hebrew of the Hebrews,” a Pharisee who excelled in the…

“One Mind”: One Purpose (Fri. Oct. 16)

The word for the day is “mind.”  In today’s reading of Philippians 1:27-2:4, St. Paul begins to instruct his beloved congregation at Philippi on the way of life of the citizens of the Kingdom.  The Apostle writes, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear that you stand fast in one spirit, with “one mind” striving together for the faith of the gospel” (vs. 27). The Conduct of the Fellow-citizens of Kingdom Paul has disclosed his uncertainty about whether he will survive his trial.  But to reassure his favorite church, he raises the hopes that he will come to see them again.  Meanwhile,…

Living in the World but Not for the World (Thurs. Oct. 15)

Editor’s Note: this is a revised version of a comment that I posted for Wednesday, October 14 in error. Thank you for bearing with me as I refine this blog. The Word of the Day is “flesh.”  In our reading of Philippians 1:20-27, we find that St. Paul’s life is suspended while he waits for his trial before the Roman Emperor.  Paul continues to proclaim the Gospel with such power that the whole palace guard and others know about his suffering for Christ. Moreover, his example has emboldened his associates and even his opponents to preach Christ freely. Torn Between Life on Earth and Life in Heaven But Paul cannot see too far ahead, because at any moment the guards…

Making the Witness of Faith Evident

Making the Witness of Faith Evident The Word of the Day (Tuesday, October 13) The word of the day is “evident.”  Paul writes his letter to the Philippians  while under house arrest in Rome. We can imagine that his guards would come and go day and night.  Among them, St. Paul says, “…it has become evident that my chains are in Christ” (vs. 13).  The Greek word that Paul uses here is derived from the sense of shining, and it means that something has come to light (Strong’s #5318, 261).  Thus, Paul is reporting that it is manifest throughout the “palace guard” that  his imprisonment is for the sake of Christ. Because Paul’s witness to Christ is so open, many…