“Let the same mind be in you that was in Jesus Christ, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself…” (Philippians 2:10)
Our human propensity is to look for vengeance and punishment for those who have been guilty of some fault. And we like to find scapegoats whom we can blame for an iniquitous act. In our first reading Ezekiel shows that God’s ways are more merciful. At the time this was an advance in peoples blaming parents for a child’s faults. The prophet speaks up for individual responsibility and the ability to change from righteousness to iniquity and vice versa. We can still find the problem existing today when we think someone is sick or poor because of their sins or the sins of their family or clan. We need someone to blame! But punishment and reward are a matter of personal responsibility.
Saint Paul takes us deeper. He places selfish ambition or conceit as being responsible in putting down others. He proposes humility as an antidote to regard others as better than ourselves. And, quoting from a very ancient hymn, he shows us Jesus Christ as the model of humility and giver of an example of obedient service to others. And Paul tells us the best attitude for us is to have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. We can imitate him and also become humble following him to his exalted state as savior.
The gospel is a down to earth story. I have always wondered which brother I am like. The second brother talks big but does not act. I guess I have done that. But I am usually more like the first brother. When asked to do something, or just given the opportunity to do something good for another (but which I find inconvenient), I may say no (or more likely try to ignore the need). But my conscience gets the better of me and I choose the better part eventually. In either case there is the need to learn some humility and a sense of service to others. I need to hear Saint Paul’s call to have the same mind as Jesus Christ.
The scriptures are uncomfortable today but call me to be my better self, the true self modeled on Jesus.