THE EPISTLE OF S. PAUL TO THE PHILIPPIANS. CHAPTER I.
3 I give thanks to my God in every remembrance of you,
4 Always in all my prayers making supplication for you all, with joy.
5 For your communication in the gospel of Christ from the first day until now.
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.
7 As it is meet for me to think this for you all, for that I have you in my heart; and that in my bands, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my joy.
8 For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
9 And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge, and in all understanding :
10 That you may approve the better things, that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ,
11 Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
1. Note how we should thank God, whenever we remember our Blessed Lady, for her communication of the Gospel of Christ from the first day of her Immaculate Conception until now .— 2. Note S. Paul's confidence that, as far as God was concerned, the end would correspond with the beginning. Such is exactly the Church's confidence that He who began a good work in Mary by her Immaculate Conception, perfected it until the day of her Assumption and Coronation. " For His wisdom reacheth from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly." [Wisd. viii. 1.] As was the greatness of Mary's commencement, so must be her progress, and the greatness of the glory perfected in her end.—3. Note why S. Paul prays for the Philippians. Not because he doubts of God's love for them, but because he is confident of it; not to communicate to God, as it were, the love which he feels for his fellow-men, but on the contrary, because God has communicated to him some of the love which burns in His Sacred Heart for the men He has created and redeemed. S. Paul has them in his heart, because he longs after them in the Heart of Jesus Christ. Christ lives in him, therefore Christ loves in him, and Christ teaches him to pray for those whom he loves, and Christ hears his prayers, and so perfects the work He has begun. If therefore the Philippians, knowing all this, had asked S. Paul's prayers, it would not have been from any distrust of God, but rather from their very confidence and love. How much more than S. Paul must Mary love us in the bowels, that is, in the Heart of Jesus Christ. Could she have tire in her bosom— Beata viscera, etc.—and not burn.
"To whom," writes a devout author, " will the children of misery have recourse, if the Mother of Mercy rejects them 1 For this Mother desires for us all good things, as a mother for her children. And hence she too seems to say to all Christians: God is my witness, how I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ my Son. For this Mother does not disdain sinners, any more than a good mother does her child that is covered with sores; because for the sake of sinners it is, that she sees herself made the Mother of Mercy: for where there is no misery, mercy has no place." [Daniel Agricola. corona duodecim Stellarum.]
And this I pray, etc. (v.v. 9-11). If in Mary was actually realised all that the Apostle here supplicates for the Philippians—as with grateful joy we love to acknowledge—surely then, our praise of her redounds unto the glory and praise of God.
19 For I know that this shall fall out to me unto salvation, through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 According to my expectation and hope; that in nothing I shall be confounded, but with all confidence, as always, so now also shall Christ be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.
21 For to me, to live is Christ: and to die is gain.
22 And if to live in the flesh, this is to me the fruit of labour, and what I shall choose I know not.
23 But I am straitened between two : having a desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, a thing by far the better.
24 But to abide still in the flesh, is needful for you.
vv. 19, 20. What assured confidence, then, should we not have in Mary's prayer. If Christ was magnified in S. Paul's body, much more was He magnified in Mary's body— from which He took His own—during her life on earth ; and will be magnified therein for all eternity, now that she is assumed into heaven. v. 21. Who could say these words
like Mary ? vv. 22-24. Such would have been the language of Mary, but in a far deeper sense than the Apostle could use it, during those years after the Ascension that her life on earth was prolonged.
" In the Virgin's heart two loves and two sorrows were in conflict. The two loves were the love of her Son, and the love of mankind. The love of her Son was unwilling that Christ should suffer. The love of mankind willed that He should suffer. And this love of mankind overcame the love of her Son. In like manner two sorrows were in conflict, viz., the sorrow which Mary would have for our perdition, and the sorrow she would have on account of the death of her Son, and the former sorrow overcame the latter. Hence she was able to say with the Apostle : To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. As though she said: The life of my Son is the life of my heart, but His death is the gain of mankind." [B. Jacobus de Voragine. Serm. 2. Sabbat. Sanct.]
29 For unto you it is given for Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.
If these be choice graces, who received them as Mary ?