Study of Phil 2:1-11 (26th Sunday, Year A)

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Philippians 2:1-11
Imitating Christ’s Humility
In nomine Iesu omne genu flectatur caelestium et terrestrium et infernorum!

Context of the Letter to the Philippians

Around AD 49 or 50, St. Paul had a vision of a man in Macedonia asking for his help; Paul discerned that God was calling him to spread the Gospel there, so he left for Macedonia immediately, landing in Philippi, “the leading city in the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony” (Acts 16:9-12). The city is named for Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. Paul made two trips to Philippi (Acts 16:11-40 and Acts 20:1-6).

Paul wrote to the church in Philippi sometime between AD 58 and 60; at this time, he was imprisoned in Rome (cf. Phil. 1:7, 13-14, 17). The letter is not written to resolve a doctrinal or disciplinary dispute, but rather to thank and encourage the Philippians, especially for their prayers for him and financial assistance. He exhorts them to continue to grow in spiritual maturity by imitating Christ and himself.

The letter’s emphasis is on hope of salvation through obedience to God.

The reading from this letter is used for the Introit and the Gradual (Psalm) for this Sunday as well. The Introit, In nomine Domine, comes from Phil. 2:10, 8, 11, and the Gradual, Christus factus est, comes from Phil. 2:8, 9.

Lectionary

1 Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. 3 Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, 4 each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.

** 5** Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus, 6 Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. 7 Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, 8 he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ** 9** Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

RSV-2CE

1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

** 5** Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which 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 confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Conversation Questions[LIST=1]
*]How can we “regard others as more important than” ourselves, and still maintain self-respect?
*]What are the various ways in which Jesus is a model for us?[/LIST]Study Questions[LIST=1]
*]What does Paul mean by “being of the same mind” (v. 2)?
*]The phrase “a thing to be grasped” (v. 6) is the Greek word harpagamos; this is the only place in the Bible where this word is used (known as a hapax legomenon, which means “said only once”). The word in secular Greek sources refers to “robbery”. What does it mean here?
*]How does the description of Jesus (vv. 6-8) relate to the attitude which Paul wishes the Philippians to have (vv. 2-4)?
*]What does the description of Jesus say about who and what he is?
*]What does it mean that Jesus “emptied himself” (v. 7)?
*]Paul writes that God “bestowed on him the name which is above every name” (v. 9). What name is that?
*]Here is what God said through Isaiah the prophet: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.’” (Isaiah 45:22-23) What does it mean that Paul applies this oath to Christ (vv. 10-11)?
*]What was God the Father able to teach us by example, through His Son Jesus?[/LIST]Reflection Questions[LIST=1]
*]When is “selfishness” and “vainglory” the motivation for your actions?
*]What is one thing in your life that you “hang on” to the most? Why might God call you to “empty yourself” of it?[/LIST]

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