My high school football coach had a sign with quote on it hanging on his office wall and I’ve never forgotten it. It said, "Today I gave everything I had. And what I've kept for myself, I've lost forever."
It’s another way of saying: Put forth your best effort. Don’t hold anything back. Because as soon as today becomes yesterday, it’s in the history books.
Another way of putting it is “Give it all you’ve got.”
This is what St. Paul is talking about in his letter to the Philippians. You could say that today’s second reading is an ancient “Win One For the Gipper” speech from 2,000 years ago. He’s talking about how Jesus, in his passion, death and resurrection gave it everything he had.
Imagine yourself sitting at the feet of Paul and he says these words to you about the one called Jesus:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Jesus gave us everything he had. He kept nothing for himself. Paul uses that wonderful phrase “he emptied himself” To continue the sports analogy, Jesus left it all on the court. (Or all on the cross.)
And like a great coach, Paul wishes to inspire you and I to imitate the example of Christ. Just as Christ emptied himself for us; so too we should empty ourselves for him. Specifically, we should empty ourselves of our sin.
Jesus emptied himself of his own life so that you and I might escape our death. Conversely, you and I need to empty ourselves of our own death, the death that is our sins within us, so that we might embrace his life.
Tomorrow night, is our parish penance service. And here we are on it’s eve, like a team in the locker room minutes before taking the field. My Spiritual Director instructed me to pray about how this Holy Week was going to be different from past Holy Weeks. Well, the first thing I’m going to do to is become different myself, by going to confession tomorrow night. And I want to invite each and every one of you to do the same.
We shouldn’t keep carrying around our sins. Let Christ carry what he came to earth carry. Let him take your sins upon his shoulders. Let him take them up to his cross. Let him put your sins to death with his last breath. And let him raise you to new life through his resurrection.
Our Church should be packed tomorrow night. Let’s make it happen. Let’s fill these pews. And if the thought of waiting in line for confession seems like an imposition; all the more reason to come. Offer your waiting in line up for the poor, the starving, the unloved. Unite your sufferings to Christ’s.
I’ll be thinking of that quote before I go to confession tomorrow: “Today I gave everything I had, and what I’ve kept for myself I’ve lost forever.”
Tomorrow night, let’s empty ourselves.