14 June 2019
In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul acknowledges that the congregation has lost confidence because of their unexpected suffering. ‘Why should we suffer?’ they say and Paul answers them in four ways. He talks about his own experience of suffering and he reminds the congregation that Jesus suffered too.
He implies that the church’s suffering is part of God’s plan. When you are united with Christ, you are called to share his destiny – death on a cross! But, above all, he exercises a ministry of encouragement. They are like light – stars shining in the world.Their faithfulness and endurance are in striking contrast to the world around them.
They are ‘standing firm’ like soldiers standing at their posts, ‘striving side by side’ in the battle-line. But they do not stand alone. They have Paul and they have God. ‘Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown,’ he writes later on, ‘stand firm in the Lord and in his way, my beloved.’ And this is our encouragement too!