Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
When I taught high school, a student used to come into class, walk up to me, and stand in my face. When I would invite him to take a seat, he would respond, “Nah, I’m good. You know we’re equals. You stand, so I stand.” We had this interaction for several weeks before I realized that this was less an act of defiance and more an expression of his desire for connection. He thought equality was the only way to do so. Could we be equals? I was the teacher and he was the student; there have to be boundaries.
The response was not to cling to the difference or to explain it away. Instead, it required humility to acknowledge the difference while also saying, “Difference doesn’t stop me from loving you.”
Paul holds up Jesus as the model of humility. Jesus let go of equality with God to show love for humankind through suffering. If Christ could humble himself, who are we not to?
—Brad Held, S.J., a Jesuit of the Wisconsin province, is currently a theology student at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. He has just come from 3 years of teaching at Red Cloud High School on the Holy Rosary Jesuit Mission in Pine Ridge, SD.
O Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds and whose breath gives life to all the world, Hear me! I am small and weak, and I need your strength and wisdom. Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy—myself. Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes. And, when life fades as the fading sunset, may my spirit come to you without shame.
—A prayer by the Sioux children of Red Cloud ‘School, Pine Ridge SD.
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