Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

31 March 2012

Empty for Fullness' Sake

      Today’s second reading was Saint Paul’s hymn to the humbling and exaltation of Jesus.  This passage is nestled within a series of instructions on community life, so the Church has decided to remove it from its original context.  It fits remarkably well with the day’s remaining readings, which treat of the Lord’s Passion and Death.
      Why should the Church’s members remain steadfast in faith, enduring all necessary trials?  How can we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling?”  Christ Himself is the answer: His self-sacrifice is the agenda, the pattern for our daily living.  It is incompatible with the spirit of this age, which seeks to acquire and possess, to shoot first and ask questions later.  What virtue is gained by emptying oneself?  St. Paul says that Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.”  No English word I know has its root in the original Greek word for emptying; but the Latin (exinanivit) clearly gives birth to “inane.”  To the non-believer, Jesus’ heroism seems pointless and silly, not worth the effort.
      For the believer, however, there is inestimable value to what Jesus has done…and to what you and I do, for our actions and sufferings are not somehow separate from His.  Take the example of the unnamed servant in Isaiah, who says of God: “Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.”  By opening our ears, eyes, and hearts to the presence of the Lord in our lives, we are, to quote St. Paul again, “putting on the mind of Christ,” and we become more disposed to seeing and serving Him where He is found.

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