My latest Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) had several tangential directions from the Holy Spirit. I can’t keep up with the profusion of energy that overshadows me. Let me give you a tiny example. My meditations were about God emptying himself (kenosis) of being God and how that was impossible (to my mind, not God’s).

If Jesus was like us in all things, except sin, then this “emptying” makes sense that his Divinity wanted to stay out of the way of his humanity. Jesus would have wanted a perfect human gift to the Father. The ever-present Holy Spirit could have made all that the human Jesus did just a sham. After all, what good is being born, teaching us how to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father, if God does not allow Christ to experience what it means to be human and suffer, die and rise from the dead as both divinity and humanity.

  • God fully adopted imperfect humanity, which meant he was subject to human nature’s inconsistencies with all its temptations, the missteps of choosing the wrong pathway.
  • God did not get in the way of Christ to experience the natural law. We have in common with animals, to feel pain, to be humiliated with the death of a common criminal, a fate that is the worst type of suffering, that of one unjustly accused of a crime.
  • God did not get in the way of Christ dying on a cross as the ultimate example of love for us, offering up his life as the gift or reparation to the Father for the sin of Adam and Eve. Jesus felt the pain, the humiliation, the frustration of doing God’s will with no support from humans. Jesus transformed all of those situations to teach us how to love others as Christ has loved us.
  • God rising from the dead and ascending back to the Father as now both God and Human to intercede for us at the right hand of the Father, and to send the Holy Spirit as Advocate for the Church Universal in each age if God’s divinity does not make a human choice a free gift, or like us in all things but sin. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Heb 4:15))

If Jesus was like us in all things, then, like us, he had to learn according to his humanity. He had to learn about those things that his divine nature knew, but his human nature had just to experience; you have to experience what it feels like to be a human (Galatians 5). This is part of the Art of Contemplative Practice in that we, too, must learn from the choices we make to be able to look at our history of behavior and learn what is authentic and what leads to the destruction of the human experience.

Let’s take a look at the I.Q. of Jesus in terms of this context of divinity, allowing his humanity to experience Faith, Hope, and Love and how it all fits together in terms of the purpose for Christ’s becoming human. (Philippians 2:5-12) Of course, there were no I.Q. Tests back then, so I don’t know what Jesus’ I.Q. would be. I know that self-awareness of who you are with who wants to become percolates throughout the Gospels and Epistles of Paul. In particular, let’s look at the Finding of Jesus in the Temple, one of the mysteries of the Rosary. I keep asking myself, why this particular story at this unique time in the time of Christ, before his public ministry? What is God trying to tell us through the author? Read this selection three times; once for the words, once for the meaning, third time for what this Scripture tells you about Jesus and his self-awareness of what it means to be human? https://catholicexchange.com/meditations-on-christ-in-the-temple  Luke 2.

The Return to Nazareth.

39When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. n
40The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.o

The Boy Jesus in the Temple.*

41Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,p
42and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.
43After they had completed their days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.
44Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
45but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
46After three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions,
47and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.
48When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
49And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”*
50But they did not understand what he said to them.
51He went down with them, came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them, and his mother kept all these things in her heart.q
52And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.r

This passage from Luke suggests how the humanity of Jesus was self-aware of his mission early on in his life. The learning curve that Jesus needed to begin his ministry at the age of 33 seems presented to the readers of Luke’s Gospel as a young boy sitting in the Temple and teaching the elders there and listening to them. In this chapter of Luke, there is the birth of Jesus, the Circumcision of Jesus, the Presentation in the Temple, and the boy’s Finding in the Temple. Why are these stories of Jesus there in Luke? A young boy sitting in the Temple and listening to the elders and teaching them doesn’t make sense of what the world thinks. The humanity of Jesus did not inform or direct the divinity of Christ. Still, this divinity emptied itself to allow His humanity to learn about the mission and purpose and transform each learning experience from self to God. Progressive learning is important here. Jesus went back with Mary and Joseph and was subject to them (divinity subject to humanity, consistent with who Jesus was). For Jesus, there was not just a one time death on the cross, but a constant tug of war between his learning incrementally and knowing the totality of all that is.

The realization of what that “kenosis” meant to Jesus is even more of a reason to try to have in us the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). As a Lay Cistercian, the take away is that each day I seek God in whatever comes my way, has a layer of complexity that I must “empty” myself of the flesh (I don’t mean sexuality but rather the effects of original sin). St. Benedict urges his monks and nuns to prefer nothing to the love of Christ in Chapter 4 of his Rule.


%d bloggers like this: