Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
November 6th, 2012

Patrick Borchers

Academic Affairs
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Tuesday of the 31st week in Ordinary Time
[486] Philippians 2:5-11
Psalm 22:26b-27, 28-30ab, 30e, 31-32
Luke 14:15-24.


I want today to focus on the first reading, because it's one of my favorites and, I believe, one of the most important in the New Testament.

A great deal of ink has been spilled by theologians over Jesus' nature and person.  Was he wholly divine?  If so, how does that fit with him clearly having flesh and blood and feeling pain and suffering like the rest of us?  I am not a trained theologian and won't attempt a theological answer to those questions.

Jesus clearly was human in the sense that if you were alive during his time you could have touched him, heard him speak with a human voice, and so on.  So I think that explains those difficult lines "though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped."  Read too quickly, it seems to state a contradiction.  If Jesus was in the "form" of God, how could he not be "equal" to God?

The word "equal" (or really "equality") is the tricky one here.  We first learn it in the sense of strict identity.  So, when I state the mathematical proposition "1 + 2 = 3" the equal sign is used in the identity sense.  Writing "1 + 2" is just another way of writing "3".  But there are other senses of equal.  When someone says (correctly) that we are all equals before God, that person isn't saying that we're all the same person.  What the person is saying is that we're all recipients of God's love and grace.

The point, I think, is that we aren't supposed to try to be God.  In fact, when humans try to play God, the results are catastrophic.  Rather, we should try to do what Jesus did, which is to empty ourselves so that there's room for God's love and grace.  If we fill ourselves with self import, there's no room left for God's love and grace.

Of course, we won't do it perfectly.  I in particular struggle with letting issues of the material world overwhelm me so that I don't leave the room I should for God's love.  In that sense, I suspect, all of us could use a little emptying.

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