The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 5, 2011

This post opens with Father Callan’s brief summary of Philippians 4:10-23, followed by his notes on today’s first reading, Philppians 4:10-12, 19-20. I have included his brief notes on verse 10 and 11 as well.


A Summary of Philippians 4:10-23~Having closed the didactic part of his letter, St. Paul now turns to personal matters. He thanks the Philippians for the gifts they sent him, recalling the privilege they have had in sharing, through their charity, in his labors and afflictions ever since they first had the Gospel preached to them, assuring them that he needs nothing further and that God will repay them in glory. Offering greetings from himself and his companions, he then imparts his blessing.

10. Now I rejoice in the Lord exceedingly, that now at length your thought for me hath flourished again, as you did also think; but you were busied.

The Apostle rejoices with a holy joy at the gifts the Philippians have sent by Epaphroditus (see Phil 2:25-30), not so much because they have succored him, but because by their charity they have profited spiritually.

11. I speak not as it were for want. For I have learned, in whatsoever
state I am, to be content therewith.
12. I know both how to be brought low, and I know how to abound: everywhere, and in all things I am instructed both to be full, and to be hungry; both to abound, and to suffer need.
13. I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.

In these verses the Apostle tells the Philippians that the gladness he experienced over their gifts was not due to his want or to the relief they gave him; for he has learned in the school of  Christ to be content wherever he is, or with whatever he has, be it little or much, be he in need or in affluence. He has arrived at thisstate of spiritual peace and equanimity, not by his own efforts, but by reason of his union with Jesus Christ and the supernatural power given him by his Master: all his strength is from Christ.

I am instructed. Better, “I have been initiated,” a phrase often used with reference to pagan mystery cults, initiation into which was a slow and difficult process. It means here that St. Paul through faith, and perhaps by divine revelation, had learned the secret of the peace and contentment of mind which he describes in these verses. The Apostle was well aware of the great truth that it is what a man is that he carries into the future life, and that he leaves behind what he has here.

14. Nevertheless you have done well in communicating to my tribulation.

Nevertheless. From what the Apostle had just said the Philippians might conclude that he was not pleased with their gifts, and hence he now praises their liberality.

In communicating, etc., i.e., in taking a share in his affliction; because they thus made themselves worthy to have a share also in his rewards.

19. And my God will supply all your want, according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle now assures the Philippians that, in return for their material gifts to him, God will repay them with spiritual treasures; and this, not according to their merits, but “according to his riches,” which He will lavish on them “in glory,” i.e., in their heavenly home above. “His riches in glory” are the fruit of “the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7).

In Christ Jesus, i.e., by reason of their union with Christ.

The impleat of the Vulgate should be implebit, to agree with the Greek.

20. Now to God and our Father be glory world without end. Amen.

The words just spoken about the rewards of the Philippians cause the Apostle to break into a doxology in gratitude to the Giver of all good things, who is also “our Father.”

Glory. Better, “the glory,” as in the Greek, meaning the glory which belongs to God.

World without end is a Hebraism, meaning for all eternity.

Amen, so be it.


3 Responses to “Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20”

  1. […] UPDATE: Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20 for Sunday Mass, October 9. […]

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  3. […] Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s Second Reading (Phil 4:12-14, 19-20). […]

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