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Advent Reflection: 12/24/12 (Christmas Eve)

12/24/12 Eileen Schaeffer (C’13)
Isaiah 59:15b-21
Philippians 2:5-11

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.And being found in human form,  he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  -Philippians 2:5-11

I find this passage brilliant because it is ripe with irony. In many works of literature and particularly in the Bible, irony is the spice that provides an endless well of contemplation. I enjoy irony because it mystifies and intrigues me; the blatant contradictions laid out in this passage beckon the reader to truly contemplate and question the meaning behind it all. In this way, I think irony is an incredibly powerful tool for encouraging contemplation. No matter how much I sit and ponder what is being said, I can never quite understand the root of it all; and yet, in this same way, I am actually understanding the passage completely (the irony!)

For example, this passage affirms the emboldening power of humility- quite the contradiction. Jesus belittles his righteous self to a lowly servant status, and God exalts him on high. This sequence of events could not be more contradictory, and yet they echo the complete truth. How can it be that in order to reach a royal status, we must first become servants? It does not make logical sense, and yet through Jesus' life and resurrection, we can clearly see that humility is the only way to glory. When I was younger, I used to daydream what it would be like if everyone was as rich as they were kind. All of the mean rich people dripping in jewels and eating fancy food would suddenly take the exterior of their mean souls: decrepit, poor, and malnourished. On the other hand, all of the kind-hearted poor people would enjoy the bounty of their compassionate souls: prosperous and triumphant. Of course this is not a realistic daydream, but I think it relates to this passage very well. Humble souls are a metaphor to rich lives. When we take the exterior of humble human, always willing to serve and never thinking about our wants before another needs, we are able to experience the riches and joys of living for others and not our egos- hungry monsters that can never be filled. Humility paves the way to riches but it is a difficult path to follow in a world where superficial wealth is so tantalizing. This Advent season, taking on the role of humble servant will allow us to enjoy the soulful bounty of servitude.