Having the Same Attitude as Christ Jesus, 31st Tuesday (II), November 6, 2018

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Mission of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Tuesday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
November 6, 2018
Phil 2:5-11, Ps 22, Lk 14:14-24

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today we consider one of the most important passages in the New Testament, which really sum up who Jesus is and how we’re supposed to relate to him. It’s so central to our faith that the Church prays it every Saturday night as the Canticle for Vespers, as we enter into the Christian Sabbath and ponder Christ’s Resurrection. It’s the epistle on Palm Sunday, and the Gospel Verse on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, as we prepare to ponder his Passion and death.
  • Everything begins with St. Paul’s words, “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is … in Christ Jesus.” We are to put on the mind of Christ, as the King James translation has it. Then St. Paul stresses what Christ’s mindset was. Even though he was the morphe of God, the unchangeable divinity, he took on the morphe of a slave in human likeness, the permanent condition of being man. This points to the meaning of the incarnation. He didn’t hold onto his divine essence because he knew, first, he couldn’t lose it but second he chose to divest himself of all divine appearances in lieu of his mission of salvation. He “emptied himself” and “humbled himself,” St. Paul tells us in a kenosis that a led even to crucifixion. That’s the first part of Christ’s mindset that we’re called to grasp and imitate: having received his total outpouring, we’re called not to grasp on to things but to humble and pour ourselves out as well obedient to the Father in life and in death. The second part of this passage refers to how Jesus after this kenosis is lifted up by the Father: “God greatly exalted him,” he raised him up on the third day, and “bestowed on him the name that is above every other name,” which means both “Jesus” (God saves) as well as “Kyrios,” Lord. Every tongue in creation is meant to make the profession, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” The is the “glory of God the Father,” when his Son is exalted as Savior and Lord. Jesus wants us to enter into that exaltation but entering into his kenosis.
  • Pope Benedict commented on this in two catecheses in 2005, at the very beginning of his pontificate. About the first part of the hymn, verses 5-8, he said, “Christ, incarnate and humiliated by the most shameful death of crucifixion, is held up as a vital model for Christians. Indeed, as is clear from the context, their ‘attitude must be that of Christ’ (v. 5), and their sentiments, humility and self-giving, detachment and generosity. He certainly possesses the divine nature with all its prerogatives. But this transcendent reality is not interpreted or lived out under the banner of power, greatness and dominion. Christ does not use his equality with God, his glorious dignity or his power as an instrument of triumph, a sign of remoteness or an expression of incontestable supremacy (cf. v. 6). On the contrary, he strips or ’empties himself,’ immersing himself without reserve in our weak and wretched human condition … marked by suffering, poverty, limitation and death. … God does not appear only as a man, but he makes himself man and truly becomes one of us, he truly becomes the ‘God-with-us’ who is not satisfied with looking down kindly upon us from the throne of his glory, but plunges in person into human history. This radical and true sharing in the human condition, with the exception of sin (cf. Heb 4: 15), leads Jesus to the boundary that is a sign of our finite condition and transience: death… actually the most disgraceful death.” He draws a moral lesson from this: “Entering into the sentiments of Jesus means not considering power, riches and prestige as the supreme values in our lives, for basically they do not respond to our most profound spiritual thirst, but rather, by opening our hearts to the Other, carrying with the Other our life’s burden and opening ourselves to Our Heavenly Father with a sense of obedience and trust, knowing that by such obedience to the Father, we will be free. Entering into the sentiments of Jesus: this should be our daily practice of living as Christians.”
  • In the second part of the hymn, he added, “The second movement, upwards, reveals the paschal glory of Christ, who manifests himself once more after death in the splendour of his divine majesty. The Father, who welcomed his Son’s act of obedience in the Incarnation and passion, now ‘exalts’ him in a supreme way, as the Greek text tells us. This exaltation is expressed not only through the enthronement at God’s right hand, but also with the conferral upon Christ of a ‘name which is above every name,’ … that of ‘Lord,’ of God himself. Indeed, the proclamation of faith, chorally intoned from Heaven, earth and the netherworld lying prostrate in adoration, is clear and explicit: ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’ … The reference made to the scandal of the cross (cf. I Cor 1: 23), and even earlier to the true humanity of the Word made flesh (cf. Jn 1: 14), is interwoven with and culminates in the event of the Resurrection. The sacrificial obedience of the Son is followed by the glorifying response of the Father, to which adoration is united on the part of humanity and creation. … In the Son, the project of salvation reaches fulfilment and the faithful are invited, especially in the liturgy, to announce and to live the fruits [of salvation]. This is the destination where the Christological hymn leads us, upon which for centuries the Church meditates, sings and considers as a guide of life: ‘Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus.’ … To learn to feel as Jesus felt; to conform our way of thinking, deciding and acting to the sentiments of Jesus. We will take up this path if we look to conform our sentiments to those of Jesus. Let us take up the right path.”
  • To put on the mind of Christ, to conform our way of thinking, deciding and acting to Jesus’, brings us to the Gospel in which Jesus describes his mindset. Since Saturday, in three different parts, Jesus has been sketching out for us the kingdom of God in the image of a banquet, using a dinner invitation he had accepted as the backdrop. He used it to talk about the meaning of the Sabbath, about where to sit humbly, about whom to invite and today about how to respond to his invitation. To understand what he sketches today, we have to grasp something about the way banquets were done in the ancient world. There were no email invites with cyberspatial RSVPs. They didn’t use a postal service. They used messengers. First, the emissaries were sent out to let people know of an upcoming banquet with a general sense that it would be ready in a day, or two, or several. The people got things ready in the meantime. Then when things were set the messengers went out again to invite people to come. In the parable today, we find the messengers going out that second time, to those who had already accepted the invitation to tell them, “Come, everything is now ready!” That’s when we got the excuses about work (land), novelty (five yoke of oxen) and family (wife), three good things that were taking the place of something more important. These were people who had accepted God’s invitation but then allowed other things to supplant that summons and commitment they had made to him. They asked to be excused. The best analogy would be to someone who accepts an invitation today to come to dinner but then just doesn’t show after you’ve already prepared everything for him or her and when you call simply says a tepid, “Sorry, something else came up.” That’s the way, however, many of Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries were responding to the invitation to the banquet of the kingdom. So in the parable the king sends out his emissaries to invite those we talked about yesterday, the poor, blind, maimed and lame, those who never get invitations, and after that he sent the emissaries into the highways and hedgerows to try to persuade with all of their muster everyone else to come, because the reality that the King knew was either they would come to his banquet, meaning heaven, or remain outside forever. To put on the mind of Christ means, first, to accept his invitation and then come to the banquet. It means, second, to share his zeal for others’ coming. And third, it means to look at our relationship with him fundamentally as a banquet, as an occasion full of joy and celebration, even in the midst of difficulties, because he himself is with us.
  • At the beginning of today’s Gospel, someone said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.” Today Jesus has brought us all here, to his paschal banquet on earth, so that he may thorough the liturgy of the word calibrate our mind to his and, despite the fact that we’re so often blind to his face, maimed to his touch and the touch of others, poor with respect to his grace, and lame in following his footsteps, he summons us all the same, wanting to transform us and send us out as his messengers to invite everyone we meet to join us at this banquet, which is a foretaste to the unending dinner of heaven. “Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.” Indeed, blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb!

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 PHIL 2:5-11

Brothers and sisters:
Have among yourselves the same attitude
that is also yours in Christ Jesus,
Who, 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 death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that 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.

Responsorial Psalm PS 22:26B-27, 28-30AB, 30E, 31-32

R. (26a) I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
I will fulfill my vows before those who fear him.
The lowly shall eat their fill;
they who seek the LORD shall praise him:
“May your hearts be ever merry!”
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
All the ends of the earth
shall remember and turn to the LORD;
All the families of the nations
shall bow down before him.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
For dominion is the LORD’s,
and he rules the nations.
To him alone shall bow down
all who sleep in the earth.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.
To him my soul shall live;
my descendants shall serve him.
Let the coming generation be told of the LORD
that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born
the justice he has shown.
R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

Alleluia MT 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 14:15-24

One of those at table with Jesus said to him,
“Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.”
He replied to him,
“A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many.
When the time for the dinner came,
he dispatched his servant to say to those invited,
‘Come, everything is now ready.’
But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves.
The first said to him,
‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen
and am on my way to evaluate them;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have just married a woman,
and therefore I cannot come.’
The servant went and reported this to his master.
Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant,
‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town
and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
The servant reported, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out
and still there is room.’
The master then ordered the servant,
‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows
and make people come in that my home may be filled.
For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.'”