Ez 18: 25-28; Ps 25; Phil 2: 1-11.; Matt 21: 28-32
St. Paul, in this classic letter to the Philippians, says: “Do nothing out of selfishness…; rather, humbly regard others …, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others. Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus.” What is this attitude? It is the attitude of humility, the disposition toward self-emptying, of self-sharing, self-donation. When we share ourselves, we share Christ.
In the gospel from Matthew, Jesus teaches the apostles a lesson about service. Greatness involves serving, sharing oneself. Don’t be like the Pharisees who say they will do God’s work but serve only themselves.
Paul’s hymn found in his Letter to the Philippians, gives us the key. Christ emptied himself of his divinity. The Greek word is “kenosis” which means self-emptying. For many of you here, the self-emptying can be found in your family lives. Years ago, Bob, a friend of mine, reflected on his life after he had had a heart attack. He said: “I knew when I got married that I would have to make sacrifices, but I didn’t know that I would have to give up my whole life” — for his family. I saw this in the life of my own father as well. He served by self-emptying, denying himself first for his mother and father, sister and brothers, then in the military during World war II, and later to my mother and me. I mention these so you can reflect on your own situations of where the Christ-Life of self-emptying is lived out. You know what it is to serve in this way of self-sacrifice. It is where your life is broken open and is becoming more. The seed falls to the ground and dies and becomes fruitful.
Sharing Christ in these ways begins with Baptism and is strengthened in Confirmation. It is nourished in the Eucharist. It is through the Eucharist that Christ’ Life – body, blood, soul and divinity, the dying and the rising of the Lord – is renewed in us and manifested, “in our body” and to the world. The word Eucharist means “thanksgiving.” Our thanksgiving for what we have received overflows in the world in our lives with others. This gives “glory to God.”
And in your self-giving, do remember to save something for yourself? Do what is life-giving for you. St. Charles Borromeo told his priests: “In taking care of your parish, do not neglect the parish of your own soul.” My friend Bob learned that after his heart attack. He bought a sail boat and became a sailing instructor at the Sailing Club of Boston on Boston Harbor. That, too, gives glory to God. What is it for you?