Kenosis is one of those big, scary theology words, but it also describes something very important about Jesus and what He has done for us.
Take another look at Philippians 2:7, which is part of today's Second Reading.
Rather, He emptied Himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness...
The Greek verb for “emptied” here is ekenōsen, which gives us the English word “kenosis.”
Kenosis literally means to empty one's self. When applied to Jesus, this refers to His Incarnation when the divine Son of God assumed human nature. When Jesus became man, He voluntarily accepted the lowliness and weakness of human nature in everything except sin. St. Leo the Great explains beautifully:
“He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing His divinity. He emptied Himself; though invisible He made Himself visible, though Creator and Lord of all things He chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So He who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.”
Jesus' kenosis reaches its climax in His Passion and death, which we heard proclaimed today from St. Mark's Gospel. Jesus, even though He was and is God, took on our human suffering and extended His self-emptying, His kenosis, all the way to the cross. Take some time today to meditate on Jesus' self-emptying as it is expressed in the Gospel. Here are a few points to consider:
* Jesus feels great pain and sorrow when His own disciple betrays Him.
* Jesus gives us His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. He comes to us under the appearance of bread and wine as our food.
* In the Garden, Jesus becomes “troubled and distressed” and tells Peter, James, and John, “My soul is sorrowful even to death.”
* Jesus is violently abused by the Jews and the Romans, but He does not resist.
* Jesus is crucified. He suffers and dies on the cross for love of us.
Remember, too, that the idea of kenosis can and must apply to us. We are called to follow Jesus' example of self-emptying love, to pour ourselves out for God and for others. Spend a few minutes reflecting on your life. How is God calling you to imitate Jesus' kenosis?