|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cup of Life
Palm Sunday – March 20, 2016
In her book, “The Cup of Life”, Joyce Rupp1 uses the metaphor of a cup to illustrate the spiritual life. She maintains that sometimes our cup is empty and in need of filling; sometimes our cup is full of all the wrong stuff and in need of emptying. In today’s second reading to the Philippians, St. Paul recalls an ancient hymn that speaks of how Christ emptied himself of everything to do the Father’s will. Today’s gospel speaks about the agony in the garden where Jesus prays to God the Father and says, “Lord, if this cup could pass from me let it pass; but not my will but your will be done.”
The cup is a very powerful metaphor because it describes very aptly what happens in our spiritual life. There are times for all of us when our cup is full. We have no room for God in the cup of our life. We are busy with work. We are busy with our family. We are busy with lots of good stuff; we fill the cup of our life to the brim. And we have no room for Christ in our life. No matter how often we come to church, we still feel full to the brim; there is genuinely no room in our heart for God.
Then there are are other times when our cup is empty. We have poured ourselves out so much for others that we are bone dry in our cup. There is simply nothing left. We have worked so hard at the office or at home with our kids; we are completely empty. In those moments, resentment can build up inside of us and maybe even an anger that is just ready to burst.
The challenge for all of us is to know the state of the cup of our life: Are we even aware of what our spiritual emptiness is? Is our cup full or empty?
The Lord tells us that the journey of life is to pour ourselves out in service to others; that we empty our cup for the sake of others as he did in today’s passion narrative –he emptied himself completely for humanity. But we must be very quick to align ourselves to the Lord’s eternal source; to allow him to refill us. If we do not, we will remain dry and we will have nothing else to give. We cannot give what we do not have! We must align ourselves and continuously refill our cup with the Lord’s love.
We are called to receive God’s love and to serve God by pouring ourselves out to others. Every week we come to the table to refresh ourselves; to renew ourselves to fill our cup once again. We are called to allow the Lord to fill our cup once again to the brim. Then we will promise to pour ourselves out for others.
1 Joyce Rupp, Cup of Our Life: A Guide to Spiritual Growth (Ave Maria Press: Notre Dame, 2012)