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Fr Bob Writes – Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

Our second reading this Sunday is a beautiful statement of the double nature of Jesus as both God and man.  It is probably that it is a hymn of the day, quoted by Paul in his letter to the Philippians.  Paul has been urging the Philippians to think and live more for others, than for themselves, calling them to a life of humility and selflessness.

In seeking a role model for them to follow, instead of referring to himself (which is his usual practice), Paul bids them took to Christ: “In your mind you should be the same as Christ Jesus.” The Second Person of the Trinity, while retaining his divine nature, “emptied himself” of the marvellous qualities and abilities attached to that divine nature (all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful etc) and took on our human nature, as we hear in Eucharistic Prayer IV, “a man like us in all things but sin.

In this total self-giving, Jesus both expresses the depth of God’s love for us and calls us to glory with him by a similar detachment of self out of love for God and others.  While focussed most in his sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus’ entire life from the moment of his conception was an act of dying to self out of love for others. In not seeking to “grasp onto” his divine attributes as God but choosing to empty himself of them for our benefit, Jesus reverses the fateful decision of our first parents who strove to become “like God,” and in their rebellion, opened the door to original sin and all its awful consequences.  Jesus reverses that act of disobedience in his own act of obedience which brings not condemnation, but salvation to us all.