Contemplative spiritual practices offer us a way, or many ways, of opening our hearts, minds, and bodies to God’s presence. It helps us recognize and surrender our ego driven small self and live into our true and authentic self, made in the image and likeness of God.
In last week’s Gospel we heard how the Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert wilderness where he was confronted and tempted by Satan. If we believe that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human, then what precisely is the meaning of these temptations to his humanity? That would seem to be the meaning and application for us today. In short, the three temptations can be seen as the primal and universal temptations that all humans must face before they dare take on any kind of power—as Jesus is about to do. They are all temptations to the misuse of power for purposes less than God’s purpose. They are sequentially the misuse of practical everyday power, the misuse of religious power, and the misuse of political power. These are the constant tragedies that keep defeating humanity. These are all tests of the ego for Jesus and he passes all three tests, thus “the devil left him” because he could not be used for lesser purposes.
Saint Paul explains this principle by way of his beautiful hymn in Philippians 2:6-11, prefacing his comments by saying, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus”:
Though his state was that of God, yet he did not deem equality with God something he should cling to.
Rather he emptied himself, and assuming the state of a slave, he was born in human likeness. . . .
The phrase “emptied himself” is the English translation of the Greek verb kenosein, which is where the word kenosis comes from. Jesus is practicing gentle release and he continues to practice it in every moment of his life, as the next verse of the hymn makes clear:
He being known as one of us humbled himself obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
How beautifully simple; the path of Jesus is hidden right there in plain sight! Jesus said “follow me” a number of times and the Gospels themselves make clear that he is specifically inviting us to this journey and modeling how to do it. Once you see this, it’s the touchstone throughout all his teaching: Let go! Don’t cling! Don’t hoard! Don’t assert your importance! Don’t fret. “Do not be afraid, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!” (Luke 12:32).
Prayer lab this week will focus on this “kenosis” and emptying ourselves of ego using the Enneagram as a guide and contemplative meditation to consciously connect with God’s transforming grace. Please join us via Zoom on Sunday, February 28th at 10:00 am.