Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Jesus could have grasped his fame as God, but the Son of God gave his glory up to serve and die for our salvation.

November 4, 2008

St. Charles Borromeo

Election Day

I recently heard from a reliable source that research tells us teenage girls would rather be a gofer for a celebrity than be CEO of a major corporation. Fame is deceptive, and beauty fleeting, as Proverbs says, but they are both mighty attractive to the superficial mind. We want, above all things, to be loved, and even fake love–adulation–is better than no love at all.

Jesus, however, knew the real way to fame. God, after all, is the most famous being of all. The God question consumes even those who do not believe in God. Richard Dawkins thinks that belief in God is the worst curse of humanity, and he spends all his time trying to use specious arguments to convince people to be atheist. Ironic, isn’t it, that he has achieved fame with a gospel that, if it is false–as it certainly is–will take him and everyone who listens to him to eternal punishment? Jeffrey Dahmer is famous, too.

Jesus had the greatest fame, but he refused to clutch it. He gave up his divine power, his divine dignity, to take the form of a servant, a carpenter, like us in all things but sin. He was born in a feed box for animals, and his greatest gift on earth is to be spiritual food for us humans. He spent his public ministry in service–preaching, healing, consoling with the Divine Word. He died the death of a slave, freely giving himself up so that we would not have to die eternally. And His service was rewarded by the Father with a restoration of dignity–no, even greater dignity because his fame as Son of God now spreads over the whole earth. The Son of God could have rested on his laurels, but he gave us the example of service all the way to the end. Mary, too, counted her role as a servant as the way to fame: because of her obedience, all generations call her blessed.

Our call is to service, to self-sacrifice for others. Life Chain, Habitat, leading Sodality groups, all are excellent ways to learn how Christ lived. When we do this, and show our joy in serving others, we shall get the same kind of fame Jesus has. People will look at us, see what we do and how it gives us joy, and they will want to imitate us. That, ultimately, is the way to build a culture of life and self-giving, and so to reconstruct society around the persons and work of Jesus and Mary.

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