Christ emptied Himself

In March 2006 I went with a group from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames on a service trip to New Orleans. There something happened that changed my life and led me to Honduras.

One day we were emptying pout a flooded house as the African-American woman who had lived there watched with a great tranquility.

Reflecting on that event, I’ve often explained that “emptying that home emptied something in me.”

Driving out yesterday to help with a retreat in Candelaria, Concepción, I realized that my way of speaking about the event is but a reflection of the second reading from the Palm Sunday liturgy, Philippians 2, 6-11:

[Jesus] emptied Himself,
taking on the condition of a slave.

So often we have exalted images of God, a God of power and might. But God appears to us in Jesus, first of all as a poor infant, born in a Bethlehem stable, and he grows up in Nazareth, the boondocks of Galilee.

But that isn’t enough. He dies on the Cross, the fate of revolutionaries and rebels.

We have a vulnerable God, who accompanies us in our vulnerabilities, sharing “our joys and hopes, our griefs and anxieties” (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 1). He was born poor, lived poor, died poor – and rose to save us and give hope to the poor.

And today, we still can experience the vulnerable presence of Christ today: in the poor and in the Eucharist. Who are more vulnerable than the poor and what is more vulnerable than the Host.

Jesus comes among us as a vulnerable person, but also as one who reaches out to the vulnerable and suffering, as well as to those at the margins of society.

This Holy Week can we remember our vulnerability and also reach out to the vulnerable.

In this way, I believe, we can follow the admonition of St. Paul in Philippians 2: 5:

Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

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