Tag Archives: Christ Jesus

Complain or empty myself

DSC02907This morning, the feast of the Black Christ of Esquipulas, I prayed the readings for the feast of the Holy Cross, thinking these would be the readings for Mass today. I’ll be going to the 4 pm Mass in Bañaderos and will probably preach there on the readings in the booklet we use. But here are some thoughts on Numbers 21: 4-9, Philippians 2: 6-11, and John 3: 13-17 – readings that touch me deeply.

It’s so easy to complain. Something’s wrong and we are frustrated. So we complain. What does that do? Does it help resolve the problem? Or does it isolate us in our complaining?

Sure, there is a lot to complain about – the cold or a cold, racism or repression, poverty or poor roads.

But if we just complain, isn’t that like a snake bite, that poisons our bodies and our souls?

But what is the response of Jesus?

He empties himself, in the face of suffering and pain. He identifies with our suffering and with the suffering of the least among us. He does not pull back, holding on to his position as God. No, he becomes one of us, feeling our pain.

But even more he gives himself over in love.

Feeling pain for Jesus meant healing, touching the outcast, going where those in power dare not go. Even to death, where love leads him.

God so loves us that He comes among us, suffers with us, dies with and for us.

And what are we called to do?

Love, give ourselves, empty ourselves of all that keeps us from loving God and the least among us.

Lord, empty me, fill me with love, send me out to give myself for others.


The poor Christ of St. Teresa


A critical moment in the life of Saint Teresa of Avila was her contemplation of Christ Crucified. She later wrote on this encounter with the suffering, poor Christ:

“When I fell to prayer again and looked at Christ hanging poor and naked upon the Cross, I felt I could not bear to be rich. So I besought him with tears to bring it to pass that I might be as poor as he.”

In her reform of the Carmelites, poverty and begging were important. They were called “Dsicalced” because they wore hemp sandals, not fancy shoes.

She wanted to be poor like the poor Christ.

But this was not only a message for her sisters – and for her fellow Carmelite reformer, St. John of the Cross. It was a message that she saw as important for all believers, for the whole Body of Christ. As she wrote in  Conceptions of the Love of God,

 “Some people have all they need and a good sum of money shut up in their safe as well. Because they avoid serious sins, they think they have done their duty, They enjoy their riches and give an occasional alms, yet never consider that their property is not their own, but that God has entrusted it to them to share with the poor. . . . We have no concern with this except to ask God to enlighten such people. . . and to thank him for making us poor, which we should hold as a special favor on his part.”

This is quite a challenge for most of us, but reminds me of the call of Pope Francis to be a poor church, a church for the poor – or, as Pope Saint John XXIII hoped, a church of the poor.


Feeling and thinking like Christ

The second chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is one of my favorite passages from the letters of Paul.

I was first moved by the central part of the chapter, verses 6 to 11, possibly an early hymn that celebrates the emptying of Christ Jesus. I particularly love the chant rendition used on Holy Thursday.

But reading the whole chapter presents us with a profound challenge. In verse 5 Paul challenges us to think and feel as Christ Jesus did.

Paul wants us to be a people who live as Christ did.

What particularly struck me this morning were verses 3 and 4, in The Christian Community Bible translation:

…let each one of you gently consider the other
as more important than yourselves.
Do not seek your own interest,
but rather that of others.

Gently – or humbly – consider the other as more important than me?

You mean that the world does not revolve around me?

That others are more important than me alone?

I think Paul is saying this because that’s the way we find our true joy – in having “one love, one spirit, one feeling.”

It’s not about me; it’s about us in Christ.

It is not about my desires in themselves; it’s about how my desires go beyond me, joining me to Christ and to others.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about myself. It’s a reminder that I am not alone; I am part of the Body of Christ and find my fullest join in union with God and others.

In this way God can fill us with love, joy, and grace – and we can become fulfilled persons, God’s holy people.