This Sunday, the second reading will be from Philippians 2:6-11. I’d recommend starting at the beginning of the chapter to get some context.
My Bible notes that this was probably part of an early Christian hymn, and also that in this hymn, the Coming of the Messiah (not merely the historical Jesus, but the Incarnation as part of Salvation history) is being held up as a model for Christian imitation - in the virtue of humility.
Humility is sorely lacking in our world.
Have you ever seen someone get bent out of shape over not getting enough “likes” on their posts?
Have you ever watched two people arguing who clearly aren’t really listening to each other?
Have you ever seen a friendship end because someone was too proud to admit that they acted badly?
If you didn’t answer yes to one of those… well… um… you might be weird.
There couldn’t be a more incredible model for Christian humility and service than in Jesus Christ.
When we think about the Incarnation, we are naturally overwhelmed by the meekness and humility of God to become like us and to walk with us.
We are overwhelmed with gratitude at the act of service that God has done for us, in Christ’s redeeming sacrifice. Our humble Savior thinks of the needs of his people ahead of his own.
We know that Jesus had a human will, or else he would not have been fully human. Surely he did not want to die on the cross for us, but he knew that it was necessary because we could not be saved apart from his sacrifice, and so he chose it freely, putting our needs ahead of his own.
And after I think of these things, my eye seems always to turn on myself. I have to admit that humility is not one of the virtues that I’m “good” at, and I know I’m not alone. Humility isn’t exactly in step with the virtues of the culture.
It is 100% true that God has a legal charge against humanity (including me, in particular) for failing to keep his laws. And in his perfect justice, the plan for salvation says that someone must answer that charge. And God - in not only perfect justice, but also perfect love - has come to do just that.
In an incredible act of humility, God took on human nature and all of its limitations, to come and walk among us; and then, in an even greater act of humility, he died an undeserved criminal’s death.
My lack of humility is one of the ways in which I know I do not resemble Christ in the way that I should.
Lord, I know that I am not humble; in humility’s place, I know myself to be vain, prideful, and envious. I think of myself more often than I should. Let it be that I might know my flaws, and give me the grace to be changed by your Holy Spirit. Let me become more humble. Let me not think less of myself than you do, but only let me think of myself less, that I might have a servant’s heart and that today I might show your face to someone who needs it.