One could easily argue that Saint Paul the Apostle is one of the most effective communicators ever. He used all the means of his time to tell the world about the transforming power of God’s love for us in Christ. I believe that the reading for today, from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, lies at the core of Paul’s ability to communicate.
Communio et progressio — the Church’s document on communication following Vatican II–offers Christ as the Perfect Communicator. As Communio et progressio #11 tells us, to communicate is to give one’s self in love. In terms of communication, how can we give ourselves? I think it first means we give ourselves away, we empty ourselves of ourselves (our opinions, our need to be right, our need to dominate, our ego, our securities, etc.), so that we have the space within to listen–to the person we are communicating with, and to the Spirit who gives us whatever words or gestures we might need to respond in love.
If we think of the self-emptying of Christ as a model for our communication, it is mind-boggling! Yet, I believe that this powerful reading about Christ letting go and emptying himself lies at the heart of Pauline spirituality. Father Robert Barron unpacks this reading from Philippians in his homily for today. He doesn’t take the approach of communication, but everything he says can be applied to our call as communicators, writers, and artists. Indeed, I believe that Philippians 2:1-11 lies at the heart of our call as artists.