Tuesday, March 31, 2015
The Passion of Christ, A Gift of Love
At the end of a mission that I preached last week someone approached my and asked why the word Passion was used to describe the suffering and death of Jesus. Good question, Though I gave a brief and, I think, satisfactory answer, the question stayed with me.
Given the modern day meaning of passion as the equivalent of lust and illicit sex it is understandable the the question would be raised. I would ask that we look at another contemporary use of that word which suggests that passion is an intense dedication to someone or something. People passionately love sports teams and hopefully they passionately love their families. This gets us closer to the use of the words passion for Jesus' suffering and death.
The word passion actually come from the Latin word for suffering. In the case of Jesus it aptly describes the fact that He suffered so much because He passionately loves us. In our Franciscan tradition we eschew the emphasis on punishment as the motive for Jesus coming to us. The Lord certainly was punished and bore the weight of our sins but His mission in coming to us, in humbling himself to become human was to love us and show us how to love. This is why the deepest response to what we celebrate this week is not so much guilt or sadness but rather gratitude and joy at what He has done for us. This joy and gratitude hopefully will impel us to imitate that love by humbling ourselves in loving service to others. Pope Francis delivered a beautiful homily in this vain at his daily Mass this morning. You can read the text of that homily by clicking on the link below.
Finally I call your attention to the three images on this page. For me the portray what I think is the deepest suffering of our Lord, His mental and spiritual anguish born out of love for us.
Also, please enjoy Busted Halo's Holy Week in 2 minutes;