By Michael Smith

A Reading from Philippians 2:1-11

1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8  he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Meditation

Today’s passage from the letter to the Philippians contains what many consider to be a hymn of the early Church known as the Carmen Christi. The song of praise begins: “Though Christ Jesus was in the form of God, he 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.”

This kenosis, or “self-emptying” in order to be receptive and completely open to the divine will, is evidenced not only in the life of Christ but in other biblical characters as well. For example, John the Baptist says of Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Mary of Nazareth responds to the news that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus by declaring: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Paul prefaces the hymn about Jesus’ self-emptying with these words: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” How might God be calling me today to empty myself in order to be more receptive and open to the divine will?

Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Dallas, Texas
The Diocese of Enugu North (Church of Nigeria)