Greek Stoics realized long ago that we come to resemble that which we adore. Today, the monstrance before which most of us spend our days in adoration is probably a screen of moving images. The idols we adore through that monstrance really do help shape the persons we become.

In Philippians 2, Jesus reveals himself to be a very different God from those idols. The idols insist on their own rights and privileges, demanding sacrifices from those who worship them (e.g. buy this, eat that, wear this, etc.). But Jesus reveals his Lordship and omnipotence in the absolute powerlessness of the cross. Jesus, who can call upon his Father to send angels to save him, instead lets every power be taken away from him, except for the power that reveals who he is: love. Jesus never ceases, even for an instant, to love the ones who crucify him. That is his omnipotence. He invites us into that same life of love, which is a miracle of grace that no dumb idols can offer.

—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ, is a newly ordained priest of the USA Central and Southern Province, currently serving as the associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church in New Orleans.