REFLECTION : Maria Kenosis PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 June 2011 14:13

Some years ago, I met a young fellow, newly married and, in fact, a brand new father with a newly born daughter. He was what was at that time called a yuppie, but still with a strong connection with his parish. I asked him what the name of his little girl was, and he surprised me when he said he named her Maria Kenosis.

So I asked him whether he knew the meaning of Kenosis and where in the world did he get that name. He smiled and simply said that, yes, he knew the meaning and that his parish priest suggested it to him.

He proceeded to say that Kenosis is Greek for ¨emptying,¨ and that the word appears in one of the letters of St. Paul. He liked it because it reminded him of his need for constant self-emptying as he moved on with his life.

I was dumbfounded to realize that I could meet a young and promising man still with that kind of culture. I thought that persons like this one were long extinct. I was happily mistaken, and I immediately prayed that more men be like him, and that the Christian culture can really have another springtime in today´s world. Hard, yes, but not an impossible dream.
That yuppie was referring to a passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians which says: ¨Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of
God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.   

¨And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.¨ (2,5-8)
This advice of St. Paul continues to be relevant today, and in fact, even more so today, what with all the things that strongly and ceaselessly take us away from having the ¨mind of Christ Jesus.¨
We can be so full of ourselves, helplessly cocooned in our own world, completely at the mercy of our social, economic, political and other human conditionings, that we practically cut ourselves off from God, and then from others.

That would be an anomalous situation since our life cannot be but a life with God, a shared life, since we have been made in the image and likeness of God, and with his grace, made children of his. We are also meant to live our life with the others, loving and serving them.

This is a fundamental truth about ourselves that we should never forget nor set aside from time to time. We have to live this truth always, even and especially so when we are deeply immersed in our human and earthly affairs. Otherwise, we would be fatally handicapped from the start. We would set out on our earthly journey without the guiding star.

We can never exaggerate this need for our self-emptying, our humbling ourselves constantly. That is the only way to proceed properly, to keep us vitally connected with God, to dispose ourselves to see and judge things objectively, and to progress in our spiritual as well as in the all the other aspects of our life, including our physical and social life.

This is the only way to clearly see and discern the will of God in every moment and to act on it promptly, at God´s pace, keeping us in step with his Providence. Otherwise, we would be cruising on our own, relying only on our own lights, which at the beginning may give us some help, but definitely not enough for us to reach our final destination.

We have to welcome every opportunity to be humble, and in fact, to look for ways to grow in humility. Let´s remember that cancer is not the number one killer. It is pride that kills us not only physically, but also spiritually. And it stalks on us endlessly, and attacks us the most subtle and treacherous of ways.

Humility melts away any emerging tendency to be rigid in our ways and to get so attached to persons and things, if not to our own selves, that we practically cut ourselves off from others. It helps us to be flexible, ever adapting ourselves to different persons, events and situations.

When we get stuck in some dead-end in our life of prayer, faith and ascetical struggle, the sure formula to keep on moving is to empty ourselves. -- FR. ROY CIMAGALA