Ez 18:25-28; Phil 2:1-11; Mt 21:28-32
The best evidence of paleontology, anthropology and archaeology at this time suggests that Consciousness – sometimes described as our ability to “know that we know” – developed within the human mind somewhere between 100,000 and 30,000 years ago.
Imagine what that must have been like for the earliest ancestors of our species who we can legitimately call human. Certainly they must have experienced a sense of wonder, but also a great loneliness and fear. It couldn’t have taken them long to realize that they were separated in some catastrophically different way from the rest of the natural world – and that they were easy prey for any number of natural calamities. Probably also easy prey to the more aggressive tribe that lived in the caves just beyond that ridge.
How to survive in such a perilous world? By grasping. Clinging with a desparate resolve to everything that might offer a modicum of safety – by claiming territory, by gathering wood for a fire, stones for weapons, animal pelts and meat for clothing and sustenance. Grasping with great intensity for life itself.
Into this world of grasping creatures – once you replace the caves with houses and animal skins with the latest fashion, perhaps not so different from us as we’d like to think – came a human being who did not grasp. St. Paul, in this week’s reading describes the Incarnation in a most profound way: “Though he was in the form of God, (Jesus) did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness.”
He came to teach us a new way – not the way of grasping, but the way of emptying oneself – the total giving of one’s self in Love. And he lived this emptying out to the absolute extreme of death as a criminal seemingly rejected by God on the cross. And he left us with a promise, received by some in the Holy Spirit through his Resurrection, that, in him, we too could live this way.
A better way. A way by which our tightly grasping hands can be opened to receive a fullness of life beyond our imagination. The Son of God emptied himself so that there might be room in him for all of us.
As you reflect on Paul’s words this week, ask yourself this question (I promise I will do the same): Am I willing to allow God to open my grasping hands just a bit more so that the blessings at my fingertips might flow into my life?
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)
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