Catholic Meditations

Meditation: Philippians 1:1-11

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30th Week in Ordinary Time

This is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more. (Philippians 1:9)

Have you smiled today? Research shows that something as simple as smiling can help improve marriages and reduce stress. It’s amazing that something we usually don’t think about can have such a big impact, but it does.

Judging from his Letter to the Philippians, Paul probably wished that the believers in this cosmopolitan city would have smiled more! Throughout this friendly but pointed letter, Paul tackles the issue of unity from many different angles. While we aren’t certain, it’s likely that Paul saw the beginnings of division in the church there—“sparks” amongst the Philippians that had the potential to burst into flame. Perhaps he was thinking of Euodia and Syntyche, two leading women in the community who were at odds with each other (Philippians 4:2). So rather than face another fractious community like the Corinthians, he sought to put out the sparks as soon as he could.

We don’t know for sure how things worked out for the Philippians, but we can still apply Paul’s wise words to our own lives. First, identify any sparks of disunity in your relationships. Perhaps you have let small resentments linger in your heart or you have let small divisions simmer at home. Maybe you could be a little kinder to the person sitting next to you at work or to your children and spouse in the morning.

Once you know where those sparks are, there are a number of ways to put them out. A quick, one-sentence e-mail to a family member or friend; being the first one to make the coffee in the morning; being patient with the driver ahead of you in traffic; smiling at a co-worker or the cashier at the grocery store you see every day—all of these small things can go a long way. As Mother Teresa once said, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an act of love.” And we know that love can cover a multitude of sins!

You don’t have to invest in big, grand gestures. You just need to try, and trust that God will bear the “fruit of righteousness” through whatever you do (Philippians 1:11).

“Lord, guide the little things I do each day so that I can help build up the people around me. May these small things bear the fruit of righteousness.”

Psalm 111:1-6; Luke 14:1-6

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