Palm Sunday brought a new and deeper understanding of this scripture passage.
“He humbled himself” Phil 2:8
From Pope Francis’ homily on Palm Sunday (emphasis mine):
“Jesus’ humiliation…we will never get used to a humble God!
Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity…
It is the way of Jesus; there is no other. And there can be no humility without humiliation…
In the end, humility also means service. It means making room for God by stripping oneself, “emptying oneself”, as Scripture says (v. 7).
…The world proposes the way of vanity, pride, success… the other way… But Jesus immediately rejected it. With him, and only by his grace, with his help, we too can overcome this temptation to vanity, to worldliness, not only at significant moments, but in daily life as well.
Love will guide us and give us strength. For where he is, we too shall be (cf. Jn 12:26).”
From my journal:
O Lord, may I be more humble – pouring myself out – but not expending all this energy given me for vanity’s sake. I have once again put you after preparations for work, for guests, for travel. I can rationalize this in the eyes of the world, but my heart knows it’s not right in my relationship with you. Help me to die to vanity this Holy Week, and rise to humility. What a paradox – rising to lowliness!
As I sit in my back yard, the roses are ready to bust loose – and a precious one in the garden is that which essentially died in a container and was tossed aside against the garage wall for months. It amazingly showed signs of life the next spring and, once planted in the bed, is now the most glorious of the lot - as you, Lord, told me it would be.
Just so, we confine you, Lord; we cast you aside, we abandon you. Yes, our God is humble enough to allow us each the freedom to place him in a container of our own making, so that he’s defined and manageable – so he won’t become unpredictable or inconvenient. And then we’re left with our stunted image of the Lord who actually desires nothing more than to be extravagant with mercy and grace. (Of course he sometimes can’t help himself and cracks the pot, sending roots ever deeper!)
Yet, despite our choices Lord, you never give up on us. No matter the humiliation we dish out on you, the Creator of all that is, you wait for us to come back; to give you room in our hearts to grow. This is a sign of hope and resurrection. Yes, our God is an irrepressible knockout rose!
Lynn Wells is a St. Laurence parishioner and spiritual director.