“He has filled the hungry with good things.” Luke 1:53.
Every saint has come to recognize the one basic requirement for a growing spirituality—that in order to be filled with the fullness of Christ, we must first be emptied of that which already fills us. As Mother Teresa so plainly puts it,
- God cannot fill what is already full, He can fill only emptiness –deep poverty. We have to be completely empty to let God do what He wills so that we can receive Him fully in our life and let Him live His life in us.
To be open space for God is to imitate Christ, who “made Himself nothing” (Phil. 2:7). In the example of His own life, Jesus modeled the posture of self-emptying “kenosis” as the most perfect vehicle through which the Father’s will might be expressed. Mother Teresa urges her sisters to follow the Lord in this same disposition saying,
- God has shown His greatness by using our nothingness. So let us always serve Him by remaining in our nothingness, so as to give God a free hand to use us without even consulting us.
Incarnate within us, Jesus continues the life He lived on earth—that of complete submission to the Father’s will. The Lord receives the offering of our compliance and then draws us deeper into His own relationship to the Father. Regarding the action of Jesus’ kenosis, now continuing in us, Mother Teresa writes,
- Jesus wants to relive His complete submission to His Father in you today. Allow Him to do so. Take away your eyes from your self and rejoice that you have nothing, that you are nothing, that you can do nothing.
Prayer is what helps us to be more given to God. But a life consecrated to the will of God is always challenged by our propensity to fill our lives by our own volition. Recognizing this, Mother Teresa wisely asks her sisters to pray for her, that she would not be tempted with self-reliance. Even when struggling in the depths of spiritual darkness she writes,
- Pray for me that in this darkness I do not light my own light, nor fill this emptiness with my self. I want with my whole will only Jesus. Pray for me that He may use me to the full.
Saints, over the centuries, have demonstrated to us how to live according to the paradoxes of the spiritual life—that to become more, we must become less; that to be filled, we must become empty; that in order to gain, we must first let go. Their obedience to such instincts, and the fruit they have borne as a result, give us confidence to believe that those who offer themselves as space for God will find that space gloriously filled.
Perfect faith is when we are nothing but space for God to be God in us.
Rob Des Cotes
Imago Dei Christian Communities
1. What has been your experience of spiritual poverty or emptiness in your faith journey? How has this experience evolved over time?
2. What aspects of the pandemic have resulted in loss or a sense of emptiness for you?
3. How does prayer help us to remain in a posture of emptiness and poverty before God?
Reflect on Mother Teresa’s lovely words: Jesus wants to relive His complete submission to His Father in you today. Sit with this in prayer, recognizing not only the invitation but also the grace and empowerment to submit to God that is implied.