Though He Was in the Form of God

One of the New Testament readings I have always loved is the Hymn to Humility contained in the second chapter of the Letter ot the Philippians. Paul admonishes the people of Philippi to model their attitude on Christ who, “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.” Rather, Jesus “emptied himself,” becoming human and “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”

I recently came across Richard Rohr’s reflections on this passage and I loved his notion of the reversal of the parabola. Rohr says

The hymn artistically, honestly, but boldly describes that “secret hour” when God in Christ reversed the parabola, when the upward movement preferred by humans became the downward movement preferred by Jesus. It starts with the great self-emptying or kenosis, that we call the Incarnation in Bethlehem, and ends with the Crucifixion in Jerusalem.

It brilliantly connects the two mysteries as one movement: down, down, down into the enfleshment of creation, into humanity’s depths and sadness, and finally into identification with those at the very bottom (“the form of a slave”) on the cross. Jesus represents God’s total solidarity with, and even love of, the human situation, as if to say, “Nothing human is abhorrent to me.”

Christ’s incarnation is intimately linked with his crucifixion. Becoming human God experiences all that we expeirence, including the very worst. When we think sometimes that there are things we can’t share with God, things that are too bad to show to God, we need to remember God has seen and experienced it all.