This Sunday, April 13 marks the beginning of Holy Week – the time set aside in the Church calendar to remember the events that led up to the death of Jesus. I encourage you in the coming week, to set aside your own remembrance – to take extra time out for prayer, reading and reflection on scripture and contemplation. It is in the silent places in our hearts that the true meaning of Jesus’ death is revealed. As a way to facilitate this remembrance, I invite you to go to the USCCB website and explore the daily readings featured there.
I also want to take this time to help you prepare for this Sunday’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service. In lieu of a traditional service, I will be providing an opportunity for you to attend your own pre-Easter retreat. The retreat will include scripture and a unique meditation and reflection experience that I hope will help you to connect with the human Jesus – the flesh and blood man who allowed God to be his source of guidance and support and who, without compromise, adhered to the truth that God revealed to him. This is the Jesus that struggled, who experienced fear, who sometimes doubted God’s direction, and who, through prayer, found the support he needed to accept the difficult direction of his life. I think you will find in this Jesus a kindred spirit and powerful teacher – like us in our humanness with access to powerful tools for transcending the struggles of the human condition.
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2: 6-11
IS 50: 4-7
Ps 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
MT 26: 14-27: 66
Humility and Spiritual Obedience
“Jesus, though in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.”
These words from scripture, perhaps more than any, give us a glimpse into the focus and motivation of Jesus’ life and ministry. While he knew he was One with God, he did not consider himself as equal to God. Instead, Jesus continued to turn to God for guidance, direction and support. Instead of allowing his own desires to guide his life, he turned to God for direction and then. Then, without compromise, Jesus adhered to God’s direction, trusting that God knew what was in the highest good, even when the consequences of adhering to God’s truth seemed dire (like death on a cross). In this Jesus provides the perfect model of humility and spiritual obedience. Humility is acknowledging that God alone is the Source of our life and that God alone knows what is in our highest good. Spiritual Obedience is taking the time to listen and hear God’s truth for our lives and then adhering to this truth no matter what the consequences of that truth might be – even if the consequences would lead to our own death, trusting that even in our death, a higher good is being made manifest (we need only look to the lives of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi for examples of this in our own lifetime).
With this week’s scripture, you are invited to participate in an exercise in Creative Expression. You will need two blank sheets of paper and crayons to complete this activity.
- Slowly and meditatively read the above scripture from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
- With crayons and paper, draw an outline of your human form, taking up as much of the paper as you are able.
- Inside the outlined form, write or draw all of the things that are obstacles to you taking time to listen, hear and adhere to God’s guidance and direction in your life. Fill the empty space with all the things that keep you from enjoying peace, contentment, joy and love.
- After you have filled the empty space, take time to reflect on all you have included there. Reflect on the obstacles you have placed between yourself and God. In your own words, or in the silence of your heart, invite God to help you be freed of these obstacles so that God can once again be the center of your life.
- On a second sheet of paper, or on the backside of the one you have already used, create an image of yourself being emptied of all these obstacles.
- Take time to reflect on the new image you have created. What does it feel like to be freed of these obstacles between yourself and God? Make a commitment to allowing this emptiness to remain so that you can instead be filled with God.
Authentic Freedom reveals pride as the seventh deadly compulsion and the fear I am alone/have to do it alone, as the fear that causes this compulsion. It is this false perception of separation from God that is in truth, our CORE spiritual wound and the wound that causes all the fears that keep us believing that we are separate from God – the fears that prevent us from enjoying the peace, love, contentment, joy, fulfillment and connection that God intended for the human experience. Authentic Freedom reminds us that when we turn in humility toward God for guidance, direction and support, all of our needs are met in abundance and here we enjoy that peace, love and joy that God intended.
Where are you tempted to believe that you are separate from God?
Where are you tempted to allow fear to direct your life instead of turning to God for guidance and direction?
Where have you forgotten that God alone can direct you to the path of your highest good?