I admit that this Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) idea is as far out as the edge of time, but so is the Holy Spirit. Imagine how Jesus felt when, as the Son of God the Father, he knew all that is but could not easily convey this love to humans. In this sense, Jesus had to learn how to teach others about what is beyond a human capacity to appreciate. He chose parables (Matthew 13) ad similes (the kingdom of heaven is like…) to get across what it not only is but what it feels like. He took what humans know and pushed it a little to what they did not know by reason alone. The phrase of Christ in Philippians 2:5-12 about emptying the nature of God has flown over my head for most of my life. Now, I think it means that the divine nature of Jesus would not infuse the human nature of Jesus with pure knowledge. Christ was like us in all things but sin by taking on our nature. The only way that makes sense to me is that this “emptying” (kenosis in Greek) means God did not let his divinity diminish what his humanity would or could experience about the human condition that he would have to challenge. What would be the price Christ paid for our redemption if it was a done deal and just a gentleman’s agreement to come down, be born as a human, and then die a natural death? Philippians 2:5-12 makes a point that Christ had to suffer. Imagine how difficult that would be for Jesus to be both God and man at the same time. This emptying must be the power of God, the same power that the Holy Spirit used to overshadow Mary, that kept the humanity of Jesus pure and integral. In my Lectio on Philippians 2:5, I experienced the following thoughts.
Teaching About Prayer. 5 “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 7* In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.*8 Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/6
5. GOD’S DIVNITY HAD TO PROTECT CHRIST’S HUMANITY SO THAT JESUS COULD EXPERIENCE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN, EXCEPT FOR SIN.
Did Jesus have to learn about how to love profoundly? I am no theologian but my sense is yes, his humanity was like us in that we learn progressively and not with infused knowledge. Human behaviors for Jesus had to be experienced, emotions had to be felt and what is good from what is bad had to be tested, all like us, except in Christ there was no sin. When Jesus was frightened or confused, Mary and Joseph helped him to be strong. When he cut himself and felt pain, he bled and had to heal just like us. When he suffered rejection and the disappointment of rejection by those closest to him (Peter, Judas, and other followers) he had to endure humiliation without retaliation and transform hatred into love for all. This is a part of what it means to love others as Christ loved us. Christ endured his suffering so that, no matter what we experience in life, be it depression, cancer, even death itself, He has overcome it with his Resurrection and Return to the Father.
6. JESUS’ PRIVATE LIFE BEFORE HIS PUBLIC MINISTRY WAS SPENT IN LEARNING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN AND CHOOSING GOD’S WILL OVER THE TEMPTATIONS OF THE WORLD.
7. HAVING GOD AS A BROTHER AND FRIEND CAN TEMPT US TO THINK JESUS IS JUST HUMAN. Don’t forget! Jesus has two natures (divine but also human). These two natures are one because of the power of God. Just as Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, her human nature raised to its ultimate perfection that any human can attain, so Jesus is overshadowed by the same Holy Spirit, but with this important caveat. Mary is not two natures, only human. Jesus is two natures. We don’t know and maybe can’t know what it is like to be divine nature, even though the power of the Holy Spirit gave us adoption as sons and daughters of the Father. This is why I like the passage in St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians 2:5-12. I selected this as my personal center and spend all my time writing blogs and doing Lectio Divina on this one astonishing act of complete abandonment (kenosis). St. Benedict states in his Chapter 7 of the Rule on the steps to attaining humility that the first one is Fear of the Lord. Humility is the key to recognizing who you are in the sight of God and obeying the command of Christ to love one another as He loved us.
8. IF GOD DID NOT ALLOW HUMANS TO BE GENUINELY FREE TO MAKE CHOICES AND THEN TO ACT ON THEM, EVEN IF THEY ARE SINFUL AND REPREHENSIBLE, THERE WOULD BE NO FREE ACT. This freedom is the ultimate hands-off by God to see if we can choose what is right over what is easy based on our thoughts that we are god. I had the thought in this Lectio Divina that only God could empty Himself to the extent that he gave humans the power to be stronger than even God, in the sense that God doesn’t force us to do either good or evil. He trusts us that the Scripture, His grace, the Son that He became human nature to show us how to love, is enough. My grace is sufficient, He says. Ultimate freedom exists in the context of trust and hope that those with the responsibility of choice will choose that which God says will fulfill them as humans in their next level of evolution, the Kingdom of Heaven. This new life, the New Jerusalem, begins when Christ accepts us as sons and daughters of the Father and, in turn, proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior of all reality for all time. All of this so that our Faith informed by reason can continue to choose that Christ is indeed Messiah, Son of God and that by believing in Him, we might have life forever. John 20:30-31. It is this constant giving back to God of the power, honor, and glory due to Him and not us that we fulfill the last dimension of our human evolution. We don’t covet the power for ourselves; we don’t hide our good works that come from Christ under a bushel basket but allow it to shine forth, not as anything we do, but to glorify our Heavenly Father, the light that enlightens our small light. We do join with Christ as our Mediator and Advocate in Heaven that through Him, with Him, and in Him, all praise, honor, and glory be to the Father.