In the first reading, Philippians 2: 12-18, St. Paul is writing from his prison cell, filled with joy as he anticipates being martyred for the faith. He is encouraging the Philippians to continue working out their salvation in the Lord Jesus. He asked them to do God's work without "grumbling or questioning." Recall a time in your life when nothing was too much for those you love--nothing was too much for the Lord! May you and I have the courage to continue doing what we are called to do, as husbands/wives, parents/grandparents, employers or employees, members of a parish, a civic community or a religious community. "[B]e blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold onto the word of life [Jesus Christ].... ...[E]ven if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith [martyred], I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me [and with each other]."
As in the case of the Philippians, we, too, live "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation." Living honestly and morally, doing what is right for all peoples, I believe, is at an all-time low in the U.S. and likely throughout the world of the 21st century. Do you, do I, "shine like lights" in this world or are we part of the darkness? Are we colluders with those spreading darkness in the world of asylum seekers, persons fleeing corrupt and violent dictators in their own native countries? Are we in collusion with those hating others because of their skin color or their sexual orientation or because they practice a faith other than our own? Are we among those spreading messages of hopelessness or do we, in the words of the responsorial psalm, "believe that we shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living. [Are we waiting] for the Lord with courage...; [are we] stouthearted"? Are we ourselves persons whose goodness, honesty, love, and faith bring others to proclaim: I have seen/experienced "the bounty o the Lord" today? If not, why not? And if not, what behaviors/attitudes do I, do you need to change?