September 14, The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Jesus Christ’s attitude
Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2,5-11
This hymn to the mystery of Jesus Christ, Son of God, written by Paul is one of the most sublime texts of the Holy Scriptures. It begins with an exhortation: “Have among yourself the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus” and then he describes three of these attitudes. Let’s summarize them this morning in order to understand what Paul means, and let’s try to make them ours. The first one: not considering what we are as ours and what we have as the result of our merits, because Jesus Christ “did not regard equality with God something to be grasped”. The second one: the ability to get rid of our own selfishness, “taking the form of a slave” to others. The third one: becoming humble and obedient to God’s plan “to death, even death on a cross”. They are three exhortations which define a life programme, and if they are lived in a radical way, they eventually earn us the prize of a great esteem from everyone: from God in heaven and from men on earth, even after death. This is the path which the saints have walked: Paul, Peter, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pope John Paul II, Dr Giuseppe Moscati, father Arturo and many, many others that we do not know, but who shine like stars in the sky before the Lord. How can you have these attitudes that were Jesus Christ’s if we do not own them and perhaps we are not even interested in them? We think this is the only way to walk: recognize their greatness; do not be discouraged if you do not have them, but take them as a goal to reach; begin to take after these attitudes – as Paul says in another letter, although at first they do not seem to fit you; pray that the Lord makes you live them. It is a wonderful programme, which can be followed only through prayer. While praying, we can say to the Lord: “Lord, I am a poor person: I wish I were great, but I am small, I wish I were good, but I am not, I wish I were generous, but I recognise I am mean, I wish I had the faith I do not have. Help me”. We cannot even imagine what the Lord can do before a prayer like this.