Conduct Yourselves In a Manner Worthy of the Gospel of Christ

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ISAIAH 60:1-62:5 | PHILIPPIANS 1:27-2:18 | PSALM 72:1-20 | PROVERBS 24:11-12

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Isaiah’s prophecies for the people of Israel continue.  And while we have learned already of Israel’s restoration and redemption, there is more on that in these verses—only, it doesn’t appear that this has come to pass just yet.  This is the Lord’s promise to his people:

I will make peace your governor
and well-being your ruler.
18 No longer will violence be heard in your land,
nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
but you will call your walls Salvation
and your gates Praise.
19 The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.
21 Then all your people will be righteous
and they will possess the land forever.
They are the shoot I have planted,
the work of my hands,
for the display of my splendor.
22 The least of you will become a thousand,
the smallest a mighty nation.
I am the LORD;
in its time I will do this swiftly.”

And even if it seems like it might be a long way coming, the promises of the Lord will not go in vain.  These are the purposes of the Lord in restoring Israel; these are some of the outcomes of the restoration, as Isaiah makes note of them in the verses below, speaking of what is to eventually come:

To bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

So great is this love between the Lord and his people, that the analogy of a marriage is used to describe the delight of the Lord in restoring Israel to himself.  Isaiah says:

5 As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.

Turning next to our reading of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we find Paul giving out a simple exhortation to live a life worthy of the gospel. 

He says27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.  Whatever happens? 

May it be that we might be able to say that with as much conviction. 

Paul has more where that came from, and he encourages his readers in this way:  1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Paul is as down-to-earth as can be; he speaks of the gospel of Christ and presents it in ways that is applicable to one’s personal relationships.  Life is all about relationships; in fact, that is all it is about.  And to this end, Paul says:  5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

And the consequence of such humility, we are told by Paul, is this:

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

And in even more down-to-earth fashion, Paul says this about how we ought to go about our daily business of life and living.  He says:  14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing.  Could that be any clearer?

Turning now to our psalm for the day, we find David, the psalmist, speaking of the omnipotent and merciful God that he loves:

12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.

Finally, a verse from the book of Proverbs, in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, is making reference to God’s omniscience in these words:

12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
   does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
   Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

5 thoughts on “Conduct Yourselves In a Manner Worthy of the Gospel of Christ

  1. Interesting that Isaiah, Paul, and the Psalm all contain dramatic descriptions of exaltation and glory. And in all three cases, the glory follows a period of humiliation and suffering. Isaiah and the psalmist even use much of the same imagery of prosperity and tribute from foreign nations (they really wanted Sheba’s adulation back then) to describe the unprecedented good times. The major difference with Paul’s account though is that the suffering and humility are freely chosen – by Jesus.

    Coincidentally, part of this passage from Philippians, including the hymn Paul quotes, was the second reading at all Catholic churches last Sunday.

    1. Excellent observations, all.

      The choice exercised by Jesus was that of a supernatural one by God incarnate himself, and one that was part and parcel of God’s willful choice to redeem mankind with the ultimate sacrifice. Although we cannot emulate that, there are many lessons to be learned from the manner in which the human side of Jesus demonstrates a quiet obedience and submission to suffering and humility for the greater good.

      As for your other point, it is intriguing to me how all Catholic churches in the country – or is it the world – follow the same reading and sermon on any given Sunday.

      1. There is a common lectionary used by Catholic, Episcopalian and some other churches. It has a three-year cycle of readings for Sundays, and two-year cycle for daily readings.

        For Sundays the pattern is first a reading from the Hebrew scriptures, then a psalm response, then a reading from the epistles of Paul, then a passage from the gospels. During the 50-day Easter season the first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.

        The sermon or homily comes from the one who is preaching and is based on the readings but there is no prescribed theme or approach.

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