Second Reading: Philippians 1:20c,-24, 27
The Choice Between Now and Eternity
Do you ever wonder what heaven will be like? Do you sometimes wonder if life after death will be better than the life you have now? Explain.
20c I will always show off Christ in my body, no matter whether I'm alive or dead. 21 If I live, I am Christ's; if I die, I gain life with him. 22 If I live, my toil will produce fruit for God. So, I haven't decided between life or death. 23 I'm caught between the two choices. I want to leave this life and be with Christ; that is far, far better for me. 24 But, I need to live for your sake.
27 So, do the right thing in public for the sake of the Good News about Christ.
18c But I will also rejoice, 19 for I know that this will result in deliverance for me through your requests (to God) and the support of the Spirit of JESUS CHRIST, 20 according to my eager expectation and hope that I will be shamed by nothing, but in all boldness now as CHRIST will always be made great in my body, whether through life or through death. 21 For, to me, to live is CHRIST and to die is gain. 22 If to live is in (the) flesh, this (will be) the fruit of labor for me, and what I will choose I have not decided. 23 I am seized between the two (choices of life or death), for having the desire to depart and to be with CHRIST, [for] (this is) far, far, better. 24 But to remain [in] the flesh is more urgent because of you.
27 Only, act as citizens in a worthy manner for the Good News of CHRIST...
Did Paul have a death wish?
These short verses from Philippians present a sense of indecision on Paul's part. Writing from prison, Paul toyed with the idea of the afterlife. But, was his reason for writing genuine longing for life in Christ, or did he write out of a sense of melancholy? We may never know. However, the text clearly demonstrated Paul's love for the Philippians and his desire to join them again. If he could not be with Christ, he wanted to be of service to his brothers and sisters again.
Like Paul, sometimes we might feel the weight of the world bearing down on us. Like Paul, we might feel "imprisoned" by people or events out of our control. We might desire life with God over our present circumstances. In these times, let us remember that we are not our own masters. We live for the Lord. If we find life closing in on us, let us reflect on our place in God's design. He wants us to be where we find ourselves, so we can serve others.
When life gets tough, the tough may get going, but Christians seek to serve.
In Buddhism, the bodistava is a monk that stands at the doorstep of Nirvana, but does not enter so he can help others to enter. Paul was like the bodistava; he desired a life with God, but remained behind to help his brothers and sisters come closer to eternity. How can we emulate Paul in our service to others? How can we postpone the prize so others can enjoy the fruits of our labor?