Lent Alphabet (E)


Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God,
did not count equality with God something to be grasped.
But he EMPTIED himself, taking the form of a slave,
becoming as human beings are;
and being in every way like a human being,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death, death on a cross.

This ancient hymn in the Letter to the Philippians is a touchstone text of our faith. The hymn is framed by the invitation to me to make my own the mind of Christ. Whichever way I approach this text it’s the word ’emptied’ which always stands out for me. Christ here, freely and lovingly, empties himself of everything except the doing of his Father’s will.

I can place my Benedictine vows of Stability, Obedience and Conversion of Life solidly within this framework. Each requires that I empty myself in order to make space for God. In the vow of Stability I make space for God by committing to this community, in this place. In the vow of obedience I try to lay aside my own will to make space for God’s will as mediated through the Rule, the Scripture, my superior and my sisters. In the vow of conversion of life I make space for God by committing to inner growth, repentance and change.

When I hear this text on Good Friday I am in our monastic chapel which has been emptied of its usual furnishings. There’s a hollow sound in the acoustic and a stark reminder that the large wooden cross, made from trees from our garden, is now our sole focus.

How is Christ calling you this Lent to empty yourself and to make space for Him?

(Philippians 2:6-11, Palm Sunday)