If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 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.
Greek Stoics realized long ago that we come to resemble that which we adore. Today, the monstrance before which most of us spend our days in adoration is probably a screen of moving images. The idols we adore through that monstrance really do help shape the persons we become.
In Philippians 2, Jesus reveals himself to be a very different God from those idols. The idols insist on their own rights and privileges, demanding sacrifices from those who worship them (e.g. buy this, eat that, wear this, etc.). But Jesus reveals his Lordship and omnipotence in the absolute powerlessness of the cross. Jesus, who can call upon his Father to send angels to save him, instead lets every power be taken away from him, except for the power that reveals who he is: love. Jesus never ceases, even for an instant, to love the ones who crucify him. That is his omnipotence. He invites us into that same life of love, which is a miracle of grace that no dumb idols can offer.
Lord Jesus, we spend so much of our time focused on screens. We turn away from the people in front of us to adore the images on the screen, images which puff us up with knowledge and pride. We feel ourselves enriched by them because they teach us how to be the people that we want to be, so that we are always wearing, thinking, saying, and doing the right things.
But maybe the people that we want to be are not the people you invite us to be. The idols that we adore don’t look like you, Jesus. They always reach for more, and you empty yourself. You do not insist upon your divinity, but become obedient even unto death on a cross, out of love for the Father and for us.
Help us, Lord, to surrender our idols, and to worship you, alone, as our true Lord. Then, we will know truly that you are our Savior, for the lives that you have saved within us will be yours! Amen.
—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ
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