Our Citizenship in Heaven

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

 Philippians 4

 1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

Be United, Joyful, and in Prayer

 2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.

3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Meditate on These Things

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

 Reflections:

 1)      Many of the citizens of Philippi were Roman citizens, since Philippi was a Roman colony. Paul is telling the people that, in fact, they are citizens of heaven, which means that, just as they were responsible to bring Roman culture to northern Greece as citizens of Rome, so they also were responsible to bring the culture of heaven to their society as citizens of heaven. We pray this in the Our Father (“They will be done on earth as it is in heaven”). What would we need to do in a practical sense to bring the culture of heaven to our surroundings.

2)      St. Paul calls on the Philippi to rejoice. In antiquity, this would not be an individualistic expression of emotion, but a community celebration. What is the community celebration for the Christian? If you did not answer “the Divine Liturgy”, why do you not think of the Liturgy as the essential celebration of the Christian community. St. Paul talks about this celebration in the context of restoring love and unity between the two women and in the context of the resurrection. How does the Liturgy relate to these two topics?

3)      In a society that emphasizes the hideous, the biting, the sarcastic, the ugly, how can we as Christians keep our minds trained on the beauty of the spiritual life? What should we do when we are confronted with the ugly, death-centered attitude of our society?

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