From the Very Rev. Dr. Michael Higgins
Readings for the Week:
Exodus 20. 1-4, 7-9, 12-20.
Philippians 3. 4b-14
Matthew 21. 33-end.
Theme for the Week – Self-Pity is an easy option, but not to be encouraged!
The sermon this week is the second of two talks on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. It is the shortest of St. Paul’s letters, and well repays study. Why not take time during the week to read it through?
St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written in captivity, while he was in prison in Rome. It was not an amusing experience. The Apostle could have easily resorted to self- pity, grumbling at being taken away from his work as a teacher and preacher, complaining at all the privations he had to suffer, and generally being sorry for himself.
Instead, he uses the time to write some of the most inspiring passages in the New Testament. If he had not been in prison we may never have had those wonderful verses on Christian humility (2.1-11) or those memorable words on Christian living which end with the Blessing we still use every Sunday. (4.4-7). He also uses his time to speak to his jailors about Christ (1.12), to give thanks for the support for him from the Church at Philippi (1.5) and in return giving them support both through his Letter and by sending Timothy and Epaphroditus. (2.19-25).
While we are not likely to face imprisonment, life constantly throws disasters our way. Sometimes minor things – family disputes, bouts of ill health, financial set-backs – and sometimes major things such as terminal illness, bereavement or a major accident of some kind. Self-pity is always a tempting option.
Our prayer must be for strength to to use all these things when they come to us in the positive way of St. Paul. So often the disasters of life can also deliver blessings. We can never forget the central truth of our faith that out of death comes resurrection.