In today second reading we read these words from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians: Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who…emptied himself…and became obedient to the point of death on a cross. These words carry with them both a great power and a terrifying challenge for our lives. What does it mean to empty ourselves, and even more importantly, what does it mean to empty ourselves to the point of death?
A simple example of emptying comes immediately to mind is that of a parent and a child. How many times must a parent put aside his or her own wants and needs because their child has needs that must be met. A true emptying occurs thousands of times in the life of every mother and father as they give themselves to their children.
And yet, we know that at some point in life, those same parents must resist the temptation to give everything to their children. As the child grows up, he or she needs to learn how to live as a growing person, not as a child. And so when parents still give everything to their children when it is not appropriate, those children may think that the world is meant to be their servant. More than one spoiled child has become a spoiled adult because they were never taught how to put aside their own needs.
In the example we just mentioned, there is still an emptying that is required of the parents, but a different kind of emptying. As their children grow up, the parents need to empty themselves of the need to please their children. This can be as hard as anything that might be required of them. Letting go of their role as caretakers can be very difficult and, at times, even painful. When that time comes, it is true emptying that is asked of parents.
“The young Francis abandoned riches and comfort in order to become a poor man among the poor. He understood that true joy and riches do not come from the idols of this world—material things and the possession of them—but are to be found only in following Christ and serving others. Less well known, perhaps, is the moment when this understanding took concrete form in his own life. It was when Francis embraced a leper. This suffering brother was the “mediator of light..for Saint Francis of Assisi” (Lumen Fidei #57), because in every suffering brother and sister that we embrace, we embrace the suffering Body of Christ.” (Pope Francis)….Have a good week….don’t forget to get your tickets to the Anniversary Dinner Dance next Sunday if you haven’t done so yet….and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love! St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
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Click to listen to my homily today (September 28, 2014): 09.28.14 Homily
Spend time with today’s Scripture Readings (September 28, 2014) here.
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish