Phil 2:1-4 ; Ps 131:1-3; Lk 14:12-14: Indeed our hearts was not proud, nor our eyes haughty. Even when we was roughed up by the local anti-catholics, we forgive our persecutors because we are convinced that we deserve even greater suffering for our sins. Though we are poor and wretched, we grow beautiful because of our suffering; we are not bitter or resentful. We never get lost in envy or possessiveness. Our souls are stilled and quieted; we are like a weaned child on our mother’s lap. Our prayer is full of divine consolation. Holy friendships are our main consolation. Together we pray, and serve our neighbors every day. Indeed, we fulfill the injunction of Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippians: “humbly regard others more important than yourselves…” we obey the command of the Lord Jesus by providing a banquet for the poor, the depressed, the crippled, the lame and the blind. By our holy witness invites all people to the banquet of the Eucharist were everyone is so well fed that we have the strength to pray and to serve with complete devotion and blessed joy.
Saint Paul had already received such encouragement from the faith of his converts in Philippi that he knew he could summon them to a new level of encouragement in Christ. He wanted them to grow in generosity and in holiness. This was the only solace in love that he wanted for himself, yet, it was really for their own good. To grow in prayer and in virtue is the greatest joy of life in this world. To want your friends and relatives to be one with Christ is to love them. Anything less is not love at all; it is sheer burden and boredom. For Saint Paul all such growth would be impossible without the movement and the fire of the Holy Spirit; participation in his divine love and light is true sanctity, nothing less. Saint Paul’s only joy in this painful world, this valley of tears, was being of the same mind with his converts. Sharing in the mind of Christ was all that mattered. Having the same love, uniting in heart, thinking one thing, is the all-consuming desire of anyone who has really encountered Christ the Lord. As one inspired teacher once put it, to encounter Christ is to be struck by lightning—nothing is the same. If everything isn’t changed then you have not yet encountered Christ. Saint Paul and his brothers and sisters never sought out vainglory. They did not seek to be noticed and praised; they could only boast in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our life and our salvation. They humbly regarded others as more important than themselves and looked out for others concerns and interests. Such a holy and humble life has brought joy to even the most neglected throughout history. Such is the glory of all who love and serve their brothers and sisters as did the saints in the church of Philippi.
The Lord Jesus turned the order of the day upside down and inside out. As in every age the powerful and wealthy offer hospitality to those they hope to receive the same from, at another time. They may even throw money at human misery in hopes that it will go away, or at least that the uncomfortable and distracting poor will go away. Some big cities have made it illegal for street people to ask for food or money because it makes the wealthy tourists uncomfortable; they may not stay and spend their money and build up the economy. Of course this would be a long-term blessing for even the poorest of the poor. In our own lifetime Mother Therese of Calcutta has given the same example. Her order continues this startling witness to the Lord Jesus. Like many saints before her, Mother Therese always had time for the poor and dying. Even on the way to an important conference on world hunger, she was late for a conference because she stopped to hold and comfort an old man dying in the street. Anyone who has such love never worries about being repaid and respected by the respectable. Indeed, their only reward is in the resurrection, and that’s enough.