Sunday, 25 September 2011

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, Shaftesbury

Phil 2:1-11
I'd like today to share a thoughts with you about one of the reasons why I think the human “personality” of the Lord Jesus must have been so attractive, namely, why His humility is one of the most attractive things about Him.

Whenever we meet someone there are certain things about that person that will attract us and certain things that will not -and key among the attractive things is a person’s humility.

There are, of course, a number of things that characterise humility, but I don't today wish to dwell on its technical definition. But rather to think about that aspect of lowliness, of willing to be low, that is characteristic of humility.
If you think of the opposite of humility, namely pride -this is a deeply unattractive thing to see and someone. The proud man has a high opinion of himself, his thoughts revolve around himself, and he's not thinking about YOU, and your needs, and your interests.

In contrast, the humble person is willing to allow himself to be low down, lowdown on other people's priorities, low down even on his own list of priorities. The humble person has his thoughts revolved not around himself but around the needs of OTHER people.
And, when we meet such a person, when we meet a person who is so habitually thinking of others that he is therefore also thinking of YOU, this is a deeply attractive thing to see in someone.

Now, to return to Christ. St Paul, in our second reading from the letter to the Philippians, was commending to them certain attitudes and dispositions that they should cultivate, certain things that he said we find in the Lord Jesus. He said that we should be "self-effacing" that we should "always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first that everybody thinks of other people's interests instead”. And this is exactly what he pointed out we see in Christ Jesus:
"His state was divine,
yet He did not cling to His equality with God,
but emptied Himself to assume the condition of a slave,
and became as men are;
and being as all men are,
He was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross"(Phil. 2).

There is no greater example of putting other people’s interests before your own than that of the Lord Jesus Himself.
The self-effacing nature of Jesus is perhaps even more clearly seen when we realise that, as God, He has no "interests" at all. He is perfectly self-sufficient and content within Himself, in His infinite and eternal perfection, He has no “needs”. There is no sense at all in which He "needed" us to love Him, “needed” us to come back to Him, “needed” us to be saved. He did it all for OUR benefit, not His.
And this, I think, manifests the depth of His self-effacing lowliness more than anything else.
So, when the crowds flocked to Jesus one of the most attractive aspects of His “personality” that must have shone out to them would have been the way He thought not of His own interests but of theirs.

And what should we conclude from this?
Surely, that this is a way of life worth emulating, that we can be truly attractive as He was.
And ironically, lowering ourselves, thinking of the needs of others before our own, is ultimately in our own "interests" anyway -because we will be raised up as Christ was raised up to the extent that we lower ourselves as He lowered Himself.
Therefore, as St Paul said, "let the same mind be in us as it was in Christ Jesus".

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