“It is not power but love that redeems us!” said Pope Benedict XVI in his inaugural sermon on April 24, 2005. The famous hymn in the Letter to the Philippians presents Jesus as the exemplar of this principle. Rather than succumbing to worldly ambition, Jesus, although he was divine, “did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited” (2:6). Instead, he “emptied himself, taking on the form of a slave,” and “humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death” (2:7-8). It was through this humility that Jesus rose to new life in the resurrection.
The end of the Catholic liturgical year is marked by the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. But this was a different kind of king—a king born in a stall, a carpenter by trade, and a man who was obedient to God to the point of death. He was motivated not by power but by love.
This love, which raised Jesus up, is the same love that continues to transform and redeem our world. The choice Jesus made, of humility and service, is a choice that each of us can make in everyday life. It is the choice to serve a neighbor rather than buy something new for ourselves. It is the choice to find self-confidence not through external factors such as career or social status but through the love of Christ that flows out of us.
There are many ways to express that love and turn our thoughts outward to others. Maybe we skip our latte and instead pick up food to donate to a food bank, or maybe we make the time for a phone call to a friend in need. Small, simple actions can have transformative power in the lives around us, and we should keep our hearts open to seeing opportunities to share our love.It is easy to believe that we can save ourselves from misfortune and make sure of our success by stocking up on possessions, staying connected in superficial relationships, focusing on moving ahead, or becoming the best in our field, but this is not the truth that the crucified and risen Christ taught. The Gospels teach that it is through humble love in which we see the face of Christ in everybody that we meet that we become both receive grace and share it with the world. Let us turn from thoughts of power to thoughts of love.