Citizens of Heaven

Last Updated on November 7, 2022 by GMC

“Citizens of Heaven”
Philippians 3:20-21 “in a snailshell”
Friday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time (Year II)
©️2022 by Gloria M. Chang

Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved.

Philippians 3:17-4:1 (NABRE)

“Walking” in the Way of the Saints

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

Philippians 3:17 (ESV)

Like a father with his children, Paul exhorts the spiritually young to “imitate” him and “walk” in the way of the saints. Paul’s use of the verb “walk” (peripateó) is in continuity with the tradition of the patriarchs and prophets. The antediluvian saint, Enoch, “walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24, ESV). Righteous and blameless Noah “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). “Walk before me, and be blameless,” God commanded ninety-nine year-old Abram (Genesis 17:1). Moses enjoined the children of Israel, “Therefore, keep the commandments of the Lord, your God, by walking in his ways and fearing him” (Deuteronomy 8:6).

Enemies of the Cross of Christ

“Infants in Christ,” who feed on milk, not solid food (1 Corinthians 3:1-2), easily stumble and fall. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tearfully warns his brethren to beware of the “enemies of the cross of Christ.” False philosophies continually seduce immature believers, swaying them to the right or to the left of the narrow path to holiness. The unidentified “enemies” are heading toward destruction with their glorification of the passions. Absorbed by earthly things, they drag the children of God into a condition Paul describes as “fleshly” (1 Corinthians 3:1).

Citizens of Heaven

“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

John 17:16 (ESV)

“Citizens of heaven” neither glorify the flesh nor despise it. Rather, following the Lord Jesus Christ, they revere the integrity of human persons (body, soul, and spirit) as made in the image of God. Destined to rise with Christ, heaven-bound saints, detached from earthly goods, offer their bodies as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). The assumption of flesh by the Son of God makes possible the deification of human persons and the cosmos.

So, too, it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being,” the last Adam a life-giving spirit… Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.

1 Corinthians 15:45, 49

As citizens of heaven, we recognize
That in Jesus Christ lowly bodies will rise.

Related to the Gospel of the Day:

The Shrewd Steward and Zacchaeus

5 Replies to “Citizens of Heaven”

  1. Dear Gloria, thank you for your hope-filled reflection. The saints know, as Saint John Paul II put it, “the primacy of be-ing over do-ing.” May our faith and actions be reinforced and strengthened by his prayer: “Help us, Jesus, to understand that in order ‘to do’ in your Church, we must first learn ‘to be,’ that is, to stay with you, in your sweet company, in Adoration.” Amen.

  2. Being and doing have parallel tracks.
    One can be good and do good deeds,
    Is this possible?
    Only by engaging with God,
    Allowing the Holy Spirit
    To lead me on holy paths.
    Be my companion, Lord
    Use me wherever there are needs.

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