Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bible Study: 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!
Download this study [MS Word, 53 k, 4pp]

Listen to the Gregorian chant Christus factus est, the Gradual for this coming Sunday; it is being sung by the schola of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary and can be found on the CD In Cena Domine: Gregorian Chants for the Vesperal Mass of Maundy Thursday, produced by the Priestly Society of St. Peter (FSSP).

Here are the words (in Latin, with English translation) and the music:

Also, here are my answers from the study:

  1. What does Paul mean by “being of the same mind” (v. 2)?

See Acts 4:32, 1 Cor. 1:10, 2 Cor. 13:11, Phil. 1:27, 4:2. “An appeal to share a common outlook on Christian living and a common vision for Christian unity. This ideal can become real only if humility and service take the place of pride and selfishness among them.” (ISB, CCC 2842)

  1. 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?

(1) Latin Fathers: “something seized”, Jesus didn’t have to aggressively acquire it, because it belonged to him by nature and right. (2) Greek Fathers: “something held fast”, Jesus didn’t cling to it because he could not lose it. (3) Others: “something to be seized that is not already possessed”, Jesus (as a man) did not try to be an equal to God. (4) Another: “something to be exploited for personal gain”, Jesus was not like the ambitious world rulers who believed they had divine dignity. (cf. ISB)

Consider Also Genesis 3 (Adam and Eve “grasping” for equality with God).

  1. How does the description of Jesus (vv. 6-8) relate to the attitude which Paul wishes the Philippians to have (vv. 2-4)? What is “the mind that was in Christ Jesus”? (v. 5)

Jesus emptied and humbled himself, being a servant to others, being obedient to God. We should think of the needs of others, being humble and not selfish, discerning the mind of God for us.

  1. What does the description of Jesus say about who and what he is?

He was “in the form of God” but “emptied himself”, “taking the form of a servant”, born “in the likeness of men”. He pre-existed creation. He was “in the form of God” before the Incarnation. See Col. 1:15-16, 2:9, and Heb. 1:2b-3a.

  1. What does it mean that Jesus “emptied himself” (v. 7)?

Kenosis means “empty out” or “render void”. He didn’t lose his divinity, but his glory was concealed by his flesh (cf. Isaiah 52:13-53:12). He accepted human restrictions and limitations (cf. Luke 2:52). (cf. CCC 472)

  1. Paul writes that God “bestowed on him the name which is above every name” (v. 9). What name is that?

Lord, which in Greek is kurios (“kyrie”). This was used to translate Adonai in the O.T., which is rendered as LORD in English. Adonai was used in place of YHWH, the “tetragrammaton”, which was how Yahweh (we think) was written by the Jews. Because Jesus is called “Lord”, this is a statement of his divinity, his unity and equality with God the Father.

Even further, “Lord” was the title that a secular ruler (like Caesar) would take for himself. But there is only one Lord, and that is Jesus. Only by the Holy Spirit can we confess that “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12:3). (cf. CCC 446-450)

  1. 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)?

Paul is making Christ the center of this prophecy, making Jesus the divine Lord destined to be revered by all creation. There is no other God and no other Lord. (cf. IBS)

  1. What was God the Father able to teach us by example, through His Son Jesus?

Obedience. God can give us rules and tell us to follow them, but in God the Son we see God teaching us how to obey Him.

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