September 14, 2017
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:6-11)
My brothers and sisters,
What a lovely gift to meditate on my favorite excerpt from all of Scripture—it is an excerpt that has fascinated my mind from the first moment I encountered it. Have you ever wondered how it is possible that the divine essence, which is existence itself, might empty itself into human form? How does the Word, I Am Who Am, come to be contained within human flesh, bound by time and space, by the emergence of the faculties intrinsic to our humanity—our rationality, our affectivity, our spirituality, all dependent on the self-gift of others?
Is it not possible that the great humility of Christ is that He allowed the infinite power of Being Itself be contained in a single human body, obedient to a destiny within that body? That the infinity of God He had to learn to live from within a human nature, by nature finite, by nature incapable of expressing outward His own creative, life-giving power? That it is a human heart, in its physicality and spirituality both, that bore the imprint of this very center to God’s being—and that it is that being which beat for us from the Cross with the same love that led to our creation in the first place?
When and how does the Cross accomplish its work? It accomplishes its work when, our suffering at its apex, we take ourselves before Jesus crucified—when we arise, and seek out a crucifix, and lay ourselves down beneath it, and sleep with our hands and hearts opened to the treasure that suffering is believing, trusting, knowing that, in its darkness, the providence of God is accomplishing its work. If we close ourselves in our suffering, instead of humbly opening the doors widely to it, we close ourselves in on our capacity to find within the depths of our soul the form of the Cross, to find deep within us the presence of Jesus Crucified, the presence that is the very source of grace—a union not merely historical, but a union existential, in the most intimate fashion, as we first die so as to rise with Jesus.
My prayers are with you all on this beautiful feast: the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
If you are looking to pray something new, see St. Gemma’s Thursday Holy Hour. Open wide the doors for Christ. –JPII