Times are not easy. TV and radio compound our own experiences. Our sins and failures as an institution have once again been regurgitated. We are deprived of the uplifting power of a communal Holy Week. In that context can I remind us all that the scholars remind us that the beautiful Hymn to Christ set down for Palm Sunday in the second reading, was written to propose a path for a divided Church community; one in which Paul found evidence of “selfishness, ambition, vain glory and self-centredness”. Two thousand years ago!
So, Paul proposes the example of Christ himself, his humility.
Paul calls for:
- Count others better than yourselves, 2:3
- Look to others interest as well as your own, 2:4
- The Philippians humble submission to Christ, 2:6-11.
Christ who, in reality, had everything, “emptied himself” and, thus, reminded all that the central act of the mystery of salvation was “an act of humble service”.
Heady stuff for all ages!
If we pray with Isaiah today, “The Lord has given me a disciple’s tongue etc.”, then we are called to our own acts of “humble service” best illustrated by the washing of the feet in the Holy Thursday Liturgy.
So, we enter our Holy Week wounded, confused, unable to publicly walk the way of the cross; perhaps this crisis is but the beginning of a deep renewal and commitment to our God in Jesus Christ.
Reading the last verse, which is a reminder that God has responded to the humble gift of his Son and enthroned him as “Lord”, suggests a gentle warning to secular powers today as it was to the humanly powerful Roman Empire. In our time, Stalin’s famed comment “how many divisions does the Pope have?” updates the original message.
Welcome to a different Holy Week. Join in, one way or another. And remember, as Paul said in Romans, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus, our Lord”.