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Kenosis (Self-Emptying)

“Christianity is based on the willingness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to live with us and die for us. This is unique to the Christian faith—no other faith teaches that God would do this amazing thing for His creatures, out of completely self-emptying love for them…The exaltation of Jesus as a man depended entirely on His self-emptying humility. True greatness, divine greatness, is the ability to be the least and to the least with the absolute certitude that it is externally and divinely important, that it is an imitation of God Himself.” (Father Thomas Hopko)


“Since the high Middle Ages theologians have pondered the mystery of God’s “omniscience” and “omnipotence.” In the process they have often lost sight of another aspect of divinity, one that for us is far more important. It is what the apostle Paul refers to as God’s “kenotic” or self-emptying descent into the darkness and frailty of human life (Philippians 2:7). Paul uses the word to speak of the incarnation of the Son of God, His “taking flesh” and becoming a human person, without ceasing to be God in His very essence. But, he declares, that kenotic descent does not end with Jesus’ birth. For the Son of God further “humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” This is the distinguishing mark of Christianity. The quality that sets Christian revelation and Christian faith off from every form of “religion” is the one celebrated in the Church’s worship. It is the truth that God’s love for His people—for us—is such that He humbles and sacrifices Himself on our behalf. God suffers and dies, so that we might live in Him.” (Very Rev. John Breck)


“While fulfillment is a gift which God longs to bestow on His servants, it is not something we can achieve by striving for it directly. (“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” [Mark 8:35].) Self-fulfillment is just another name for self-love. Self-love, of course, is the most abused concept of all. Misinterpreting the second great commandment of Christ, “love your neighbor as yourself,” modern pop psychology has decreed that in order to be able to love others one must first love oneself—in fact, one must put oneself first in everything. If there’s anything left over when the self has been gratified, then we can think about giving to others. In this scenario, God often ends up in last place. Rather than seeking to serve Him, we try to make Him serve us. We demand abundant earthly blessings in exchange for the great sacrifice we make in simply acknowledging His existence.” (Father John Weldon Hardenbrook)


“…he [St. Paul] admonishes us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). This apostolic rule is contrary to our modern heresy of self-fulfillment. The indulgent cult of self-actualization ignores the faith and healing found in the Body of Christ, and instead promotes independence and doing our own thing. May we bear one another’s burdens in love, joy, and peace in the Church family (see Galatians 4:28), for we are children of one Father and brethren of one another (Galatians 3:28; 4:6)!” (Dynamis 9/12/2018)


“Every situation in life comes down to emptying oneself (kenosis) and becoming alive to the greater force of grace.” (Jonathan Jackson)


“Christ does not simply die on our behalf, or instead of us, He becomes sin in order to destroy sin (2 Cor. 5:22). Christ is without sin, and yet He becomes sin. There is nothing “noble” in such an action; nobility would be a deeply unjust accusation. It is self-emptying love…This act of self-emptying is known as kenosis. It is the ultimate act of love, the ultimate act of self-giving, self-forgetting…We are Baptized into the self-emptying love of Christ, for this is the only way of life. If we are to be transformed “from one degree of glory to another” then it is towards the “glory” of the crucified, self-emptying Christ that we are being transformed. Deification (theosis) is also self-emptying (kenosis) for there is no other kind of life revealed to us in Christ. The fullness of life in Christ is found in His emptiness.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“He let Himself be emptied. It was not through any compulsion by the Father. He complied of His own accord with the Father’s good pleasure…He submitted Himself to be emptied and, in exchange for joy set before Him, endured a cross…He became like us that we may become like Him. The work of the Spirit seeks to transform us by grace into a perfect copy of His humbling.” (Saint Kyril of Alexandria)

“What does this mind of Christ look like? It looks like kenosis. It looks like laying aside what I have a right to hold on to. It looks like humility and service. It looks like voluntary death for the sake of love. “ (Fr. Michael Gillis)

“By the power of His sacrifice Christ draws us into His own sacrificial action. The Church also offers sacrifice. However, the sacrifice offered by the Church and her members can only be an offering given in return to God on account of the riches of His goodness, mercy and love. This sacrifice is first of all, a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It also has other forms, including commitment to the Gospel, loyalty to the true faith, constant prayer, fasting, struggles against the passions, and works of charity. At its deepest level, however, this offering in return (antiprosfora) is an act of kenosis (Lk 9.23-25). It is constituted by our willingness to lose our life in order to gain it (Mt 16.28).” (Rev. Alkiviadis Calivas)

“…Church Fathers teach us that in brokenness, however, Godly love can emerge. The brokenness in the world, often a source of despair, can be transformed into an opportunity, in imitation of Christ, to empty (kenosis) ourselves from our own self-love, to “put on Christ” - an emptying that reaches fulfillment in love towards God and neighbor.” (Fr. George Morelli)


#FatherStephenFreeman #SaintKyrilofAlexandria #FrMichaelGillis #RevAlkiviadisCalivas #FrGeorgeMorelli #FatherThomasHopko #VeryRevJohnBreck #FatherJohnWeldonHardenbrook #Dynamis #JonathanJackson

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