Choosing the self-emptying God

He emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness.
Philippians 2: 7

For many years the hymn in the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians has moved me to reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation.

We have a God who does not cling to an exalted notion of being God. Jesus empties himself, becoming human. He comes as a human in a poor country, occupied by the Roman Empire, and is born in poverty.

It is, I think, fitting that this is the first reading in the Catholic lectionary today, Election Day in the United States.

Who is the God that will influence our choices – both personal and as a nation? Our choices may reflect our image of God.

Will we choose a God who is poor and sides with them? Or do we want a god who gives us material riches?

Will we choose a God who is humble? Or do we want a god who lords it over all the nations: “we’re number one”?

Will we choose a God who is full of love and who seeks the Truth? Or do we want a god according to our own image, distorting the truth?

Will we choose a God who is self-emptying, out of love? Or do we want a god who exalts himself over others, using power to coerce other nations and peoples?

I know that all our electoral choices are contingent and no candidate is adequate. No candidate will bring in the Reign of God – that’s God’s work, with our cooperation.

But how we choose our elected officials reflects which God we worship.

I pray the US chooses remembering Jesus, the self-emptying God who loves everyone, especially the poor.

As Psalm 22: 25 says:

He has never despised
nor scorned the poverty of the poor.
From them he has not hidden his face.
but he heard the poor when they cried.

If that’s what God does, shouldn’t we do the same.

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