Eucharist and Kenosis

Antonio M. Sicari

Discussing the eucharistic mystery from the perspective of kenosis is not a simple matter. In the twentieth century, in fact, there were many “theologies” that claimed authentication by resorting to what they called the “key” concept of kenosis, which was made to serve in a thousand different ways: “radical theology,” “theology of secularization,” “theology of hope,” “liberation theology,” “ecumenical theology,” “theology of dialogue,” “theology of trinitarian kenosis,” “theology of crisis and chaos,” “neo-cultural theologies,” “kenotic Christology,” “theology of kenotic anonymity,” “theology of biblical kenosis,” etc., etc. In all of these one notes the proper attempt to promote the kenotic principle in Philippians 2:7, so as to place truly at the center of Christian thought the mystery of the abasement and self-giving of the Son of God (rather than the self-divinization of man, which bases itself on its own ideas about the power, knowledge, and glory of God, thereby developing a powerful concept that appropriates and imposes the truth). We should also note, however, that this “kenotic key” has allowed many writers gradually to evacuate the Christian faith of everything that properly identifies and characterizes it (whether at the level of the concept of God, the level of ecclesial mediation, or the level of theological language), leaving only an empty, indeterminate space in which everything can be reconciled with everything: all faiths, all beliefs, all confessions, all languages are invited to censor themselves, to limit themselves, to “weaken” themselves in the conviction that they thus imitate Christ’s self-emptying with a view to universal salvation. At the same time, this kenotic process supposedly liberates the Church from all religious, political, cultural, and scientific conflicts (for example, in relations between faith and science), simply because the Church would finally recognize that it can have no “strong” language, no truth that can be formulated definitively, and thus no “strong” claim or presence in the world.