Paul’s letters are not abstract theological treatises but practical communications meant for a particular place with a particular context. We do not know the exact details of all the situations to which Paul writes, but it seems clear that the Philippians are experiencing conflict among strong-minded parties.

Paul urges the Christians in Philippi to put aside their desire to have their own way and instead to develop a Christlike outlook. Then Paul quotes a hymn, one his audience likely knows. In cosmic imagery, this hymn praises the pre-existent Christ, the eternal second person of the Trinity who exists before the Incarnation. Christ, says the hymn, “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage” (niv) but instead remains humble as a servant.

The prologue to John’s Gospel alludes to this idea of a pre-existent Christ. Pre-existence is a complex proposition; it is abstract and metaphysical. Why, then, do we read this passage as we prepare for Holy Week’s real, concrete portrayal of a human Jesus suffering a human death?

The hymn of Philippians seems to perfectly illustrate the paradox of Incarnation: that Christ, as perfectly divine, could have avoided the humiliation of arrest and execution. But in his choice to be human, Jesus takes on a role that leaves him vulnerable, mortal, and susceptible to harm. Allowing this harm to befall himself is a powerful statement of God’s concern for and solidarity with all those who suffer. Paul shows us Christ with two aspects: human and divine, son and servant. Given that example, how do we approach the paradox of humanity? How do we find the mind, the outlook, the sense of purpose Jesus holds?

Incarnate One, human and divine, we praise you as servant and son. Teach us to embrace our own call to be children of God, servants of all. Amen.

Rece las Escrituras usando Leccionario en Audio
Leer Luke 19:28-40

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Leccionario Semanal
April 8–14, 2019
Resumen de la Escritura

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Psalm 118 is a song of rejoicing, yet it also includes the prophecy that the cornerstone must experience rejection. Isaiah speaks of physical suffering, of being beaten, disgraced, and spat on. We see elements of this in the Gospel reading, where Luke describes the final moments of Jesus’ life. Bloodied and beaten, Jesus hangs on the cross and breathes his last. In Philippians, Paul places this drama within the eternal narrative of God’s redeeming work. Jesus leaves his rightful place and becomes flesh. He experiences pain and suffering, even the most humiliating form of death, crucifixion. Jesus can empathize with our suffering because he has suffered. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Preguntas para la reflexión

Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. How does the Suffering Servant speak to your life today?
Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. How do you hear differently the familiar verses of this psalm when you read them together?
Read Philippians 2:5-11. Do you find it paradoxical to live as a beloved child of God and as a servant? If so, how do you live in this paradox?
Read Luke 19:28-40. How do you experience the extreme emotional highs and lows of Palm Sunday and Holy Week, even knowing how it will all turn out?

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