‘Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of people. And being found in human form, he humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross’(Phil 2:6-11).
This is the great mystery of our faith. Jesus Christ, Son of God, takes on flesh and humanity and so becomes bound by the cycle of human life from birth to death. Christ truly God and truly human entered fully into our existence and experience and therefore becomes a God that truly knows us. Francis marvelled at this and rejoiced in it too.
He writes in his Letter to the Entire Order ‘The Lord of the Universe, God and Son of God, so humbles himself that for our salvation he hides Himself under an ordinary piece of bread! Brothers, look at the humility of God, and pour out your hearts before Him! Humble yourselves that you may be exalted by Him! Hold back nothing for yourselves, that He who gives Himself totally for you may receive you totally! (27-30).
As a Franciscan, I cannot read these words without being moved and changed by them. Their beauty lies in their simplicity. These are the words of somebody who understood, at the deepest levels, what Christ did for us, the lengths he went to in order to reach us where we are and how He continues to do this everyday, through the Eucharist.
Christ’s humility, Francis tells us, calls us in turn to humility. We should humble ourselves before God and each other, taking the form of a servant. In giving of ourselves to God and our Brothers and Sisters, we receive. This is the life blood of Christianity. As we celebrate the Eucharist together, we do so in harmony and solidarity with all of Creation. We can, if we turn our minds to it, carry the weight of the world to the altar and offer it, along with ourselves, to God. This is our call.
Let us pray that over these days of the Congress, that we may be given the grace of humility. That we may begin to move towards seeing our Brothers and Sisters as Christ sees them and that we may never be afraid to go and meet them, where they are, just as Christ meets us where we are. Through the Eucharist may we be unified with Christ and with one another.