I have trouble believing Paul in today’s second reading. Not because I think he’s dishonest, but because, given his circumstances, I can’t see why he can be in such a good mood. This letter EXUDES joyful praise of God, and offers encouragement to a struggling church that he just started. His worry wasn’t for himself. His worry was for this new church in Phillipi that was trying to keep afloat.
I have trouble believing Paul because it sounds like he’s trying to talk himself into not being afraid of being executed. He’s sitting in a Roman jail, chained to the wall, and what does he have to think about all day? He’s thinking about when his end will come, and what it will look like.
“It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death...” he says.
That’s a bold statement. Especially from someone who could be taken away and executed at any moment. Some might say that he’s masking his fear with heroic religious language, trying to convince himself that the promise of new and everlasting life with Christ was not a mere fantasy, but a present reality waiting for him just on the other side of the jail cell door.
Others might say Paul is declaring his strong, confident faith in difficult circumstances, defiantly staring death in the face, proclaiming the mighty acts of God in a world opposed to God’s kingdom.
Maybe it’s a....(whole thing here)