Emptying and filling PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 01 August 2016 14:49

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

In a certain sense, our earthly life can be described as a matter of emptying and filling. That is, emptying of our own selves, our own egos, so we can be filled with God, with love, which is what is proper to us.

In whatever we do, let’s see to it that this business of emptying and filling is the underlying law and principle that is being followed. Failing in that can only mean failing in our ultimate purpose in life, no matter how successful we may appear to be in our work or social and political life, and in the other aspects of life.

We need to adapt and develop the relevant attitude and skills so we can turn this ideal into a working lifestyle. We should not forget that Christ clearly said: ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mt 16,24) That, in a nutshell, is the biblical basis for this business of emptying and filling.

Christ himself, our way, truth and life, lived this principle perfectly by emptying himself so he can be filled with the will of his Father.

St. Paul expressed this fact in this way: “Christ 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.” (Phil 2,5-8)

Christ’s self-emptying cannot be overemphasized. Being the son of God with whom nothing is impossible, he chose to be born poor in a manger and led an austere life all throughout. Even in his impressive moments of preaching and making miracles, he did not want to be treated as a king or some kind of celebrity.

He preached about meekness and humility and lived what he preached. “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart,” he said. (Mt 11,29) In the Last Supper, he shocked his apostles when he began to wash their feet and insisted on doing so, despite the protestation of Peter, to give an example for them to follow.

Then finally he allowed himself to go through his passion and death on the cross, his supreme act of self-emptying that earned the greatest gift for us—our own salvation, the return of God into our lives—God from whom we come and to whom we belong.

We need to learn how to empty ourselves to fill ourselves with God and with his love which is the only authentic love that we can have. And this concern will be a never-ending affair in our whole lifetime, because our heart will always be an arena of the lifelong struggle between God and ourselves.

St. Augustine describes this phenomenon in this way: “Two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.” (City of God, ch. 28)

We need to be clear about this distinction, and its implications and ramifications, for many are now the circumstances that can confuse us in this most delicate and important matter.

Is the love we are developing in ourselves the love of God or our self-love? Sometimes the distinction between the two loves can be tricky because we can often delude ourselves and cover ourselves with all sorts of rationalizations and justifications.

Still we can manage to distinguish as long as we closely monitor the course of our thoughts, desires, words and deeds through regular examinations of conscience, frequent confessions, never-ending process of conversion occasioned by a deep sense of humility.

To be sure, this self-emptying in order to be filled with God’s love is not a matter of running away from our earthly affairs, which will always be in need of material resources. It’s rather a matter of making sure that our earthly and temporal affairs do not convert into our end and god themselves, but rather as means to develop our love for God, and with that love, also our love for others.

Christ assures us that if we have the proper priorities in life, everything will just be fine. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” he said, “and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Mt 6,33)

When we empty ourselves of our own ego, we get filled with God and his love.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 August 2016 15:07