There is a story I know from a book that many of you read in school. The book is about hunting raccoons. The story says that if you want to trap a raccoon, all you need is something shiny. You put this shiny object in a place with a very small opening. The raccoon will reach in and grab it, but because its fist is now full, it cannot pull its paw back. It could just let go of the object and go away, but it will not do this. It will never let go. You will find it the next morning, still holding on. While I cannot personally verify this method of trapping raccoons to be effective, I have seen the principle in action, not with raccoons but people. Every last one of us is holding on to something that is preventing us from being really happy. What we need to learn is kenosis. This beautiful poem from Philippians is showing the concept of kenosis. Kenosis means “emptiness” in Greek, and St. Paul is telling us about how Christ emptied himself. What does that mean? It means to not grasp onto anything.
Kenosis does not mean losing everything. It means losing everything except those things that no one can take away. Consider Christ’s journey of kenosis. He is God, but he came down to earth. He went from being all-powerful and perfectly happy, to being poor and suffering the difficulties of this world. When all his disciples left him, he let them go. When his enemies tried to kill him, he did not stop them. He never grasped at anything. No one could ever threaten Jesus Christ because he is God, and nothing anyone ever did to him could change that fact. He did not need to hold on tightly to his equality with the Father because he had complete confidence that this could never be taken away from him.
Perhaps you will think, “Kenosis is all well and good for Jesus, since he was God and nothing could ever change that, but for me, what do I have that I can depend on no matter what?” The same thing: not that we are God but that there is a God, who loves us, who has promised us good things. They might take our money, our safety, our health, even our life, but no one, no matter what, can take God away from us.