Lectio Divina on ( Philippians 2 : 1 – 4 )   Leave a comment

Introduction

This series is my Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading series, in this series I am going to present to you the reader my experiences with applying Lectio Divina to certain scripture excerpts. Lectio Divina is called Divine Reading for a reason; for it is more contemplative then the typical and casual reading that most people do in a busy day. Divine Reading is meant to speak to your whole being rather than solely the intellectual part of your being. Certain excerpts are large, so they were broken up into smaller pieces to respect the key contemplative aspect of this ancient practice; these are the notes which I made in light of each Lectio Divina reading. I used the Orthodox Study Bible for Reading and for its commentary on scriptural entries in order to begin the first and move into the second part of the process.

According to The Orthodox Study Bible the Commentary reads for this section, “Conceit or vainglory, is a common and fatal vice. Hindering spiritual growth, it causes us to hold resentment or even hatred of those who lead a different life then us, causing us to think that we are better than they. According to St. John Climacus, ‘The spirit of despair exults at the sight of mounting vice, while the spirit of vainglory exults at the sight of the growing treasures of virtue.’ Conceit is a form of idolatry, for in thinking they want to please God, they use God that they may secretly wish to please people more.”

Philippians 2:1-2

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of charity, if any society of the spirit, if any bowels of commiseration: Fulfill my joy, that you be of one mind, having the same charity, being of one accord, agreeing in sentiment.”

While reading this section I noticed that a conditional was set up: IF We Want The Consolation of Christ, The Comfort of Charity-Love, A Spiritual Society, The Sharing of Empathy and Compassion When Things Go Wrong THEN we must be of one Mind, cultivating within ourselves the same Love, aligned in our Will and Possessing the Same Philosophical Conviction. Here is where we see the notions of the Church Militant on display, but the war we fight is different than the wars of this world, our war goes after subtle things not the obvious things of forts, cities, and people but the fortress of evil within our hearts, the city of the flesh with its rebellious denizens that resides within our hearts, and the various ideologies and idols we build to them who are almost like people taking on a life of their own. St. John Chrysostom makes it clear in a Homily specifically directed to this part of Pauls Letter that,

“This mode of earnestness we use when we claim a matter which we prefer to everything else. For if we did not prefer it to everything, we should not wish to receive in it our recompense for all things, nor say that through it all is represented. We indeed remind men of our carnal claims; for example, if a father were to say, If you have any reverence for your father, if any remembrance of my care in nourishing you, if any affection towards me, if any memory of the honor you have received of me, if any of my kindness, be not at enmity with your brother; that is, for all those things, this is what I ask in return.”

Philippians 2:3-4

“Let nothing be done through contention: neither by vain glory. But in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves: Each one not considering the things that are his own, but those that are other men’s.”

It would seem either Paul offers these as conditions as well or he means that should the above conditions be met we need to guard against these doing these things, lest we undermine the conditions described above. We first trait we need to guard against is Playing The Game of Comparing, which is explained in the 3rd Verse, we are not to do things out of some competition with those who are working in solidarity with us lest we become filled with resentment, anger, or hatred for our brethren in Christ, which of course is something that would work against The Mystical Body. With regard to this game however, I must confess that since the Church is made of fallen humans, Grace proves its presence because this Church of ours has seen 2000 Years worth of warfare sometimes within and sometimes without and yet it still stands, and surely within those internal affairs of the Church this warfare I am sure was fueled exactly by Contention.

The second trait we need to look out for is making choices and plans that would solely benefit ourselves, and only ourselves. There is nothing more devastating to the Mystical Body as it commits itself to warfare in this fallen world of ours then its members becoming radical individualists or enlightened egotists, Christ tells us that Purity of Heart is a Beatitude, a Virtue, let us work with Christ and His Mystical Body then to cultivate within ourselves Honesty and a Genuine Desire to think of others when we make choices and plans, so that we may advance the Kingdom of Heaven in this world: This is in keeping with The Lord’s Prayer, which serves as a template to any committed Christians desires. Something else about this catches my attention, namely that in focusing only on ourselves is very entropic even myopic, and it denies us the ability to get even more or see opportunities for seeing God’s presence in our lives, for if we try to get more for others then we will inevitably find ourselves getting a boost as well, again our desire needs to be genuine for thinking outside of the realm of “myself” and into the realm of “others” not secretly possessing the desire for merely “myself” while working with the “others.”

Now if these 2 traits are successfully guarded against, first in ourselves and then in others then it becomes easier to become of One Mind, Cultivate within Ourselves The Same Love, Aligned in Our Will’s and Possess the same Philosophical Convictions. Of course, because of our falleness and our willingness to take in Grace, such realization will only happen by degrees. But if I am not Comparing, Competing, or being Selfish as we fight this war as the Church Militant then truly there will be more victories which leads to more morale boosts and solidarity within the Mystical Body. This is why Catholics put a large premium on Family, both the Domestic and the Mystical Family.

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