Monday, March 26, 2018

Is our Passion weak on Passion Week?

As human beings, I believe that all of us are made with a certain capacity to be people of passion.  There’s a certain fire that burns inside our core that makes us give ourselves, our energies and our attention over to things or people with a certain focus and drive.  You see it in the ways little children are so fixed in their gaze at when they are playing with their toys or these days, their internet driven devices.  The world could be falling apart around them and it wouldn’t tear their attention away from the object of their desire.  Adults are really no different in the ways that they can be so attuned to what delights, fascinates and thrills them.  As well, many in life are just as bothered, worried and filled with anxieties with their problems and issues, causing them to be so focused on them that it adversely affects the way they live and the relationships that they have.  In good ways and in bad ways, we are invariably passionate people.

It is no coincidence that the week before Easter has another name, Passion Week, apart from the other more used nomenclature of Holy Week.  Passion week starts from Passion Sunday, which is also called Palm Sunday.  It marks Jesus’ final and strangely triumphant entry into the beloved city of Jerusalem.  It is strangely triumphant because although he arrives as a leader, his status and mode of transport is so understated that it seems strikingly counterintuitive.  Not riding proudly on the back of a regal Stallion or a majestic elephant decked out in the colours of royalty, but rather on a back of a beast of burden and one that is not known for any semblance of intelligence – a donkey or an ass.  This choice is deliberate because it underlines the attitude of humility that is sine qua non for the way Jesus leads, loves and overpowers the hitherto unconquerable bastion of sin, evil and death.

I much prefer the name Passion Week over that of Holy Week because it gives us an entry point as Christians into the heart of Christ - something that we don’t do often enough and seriously enough.  If we do not regularly take time to peer into the heart of Christ, our hearts will not be beating in tandem with his.  When we are only hearing the beat of the drums of the world, they will be beating out of sync with the heartbeat of Christ.  Where was Jesus’ heart at?  What was his Passion?  What drove him to be so dedicated to His cause?  What was his cause?  What was he enamoured with?  Whom was he enamoured of?

These questions are not only good to ponder, but also very necessary if we truly intend to be the disciples of Jesus, and not contented to merely pay him lip service.  Wanting what Jesus has and truly being besotted, beguiled and captivated by this is what is going to change the way our entire world pivots.  It is one thing being attentive to the laws of God and ticking all the boxes of the teachings of the Church.  But it is when we love what Christ loves with his entire life (causing him to go to the Cross for it) that we truly raise the bar of our faith.  The gospel text that featured the rich young man’s encounter with Jesus becomes then the paradigm of most of us in the way that we live as Christians.  As far as the commandments went, he was probably an All-Star player.  But he lacked one thing – complete commitment to God.  This was articulated by Jesus in asking him to divest of himself of his material wealth.  We need to interpret this with care though – at the heart of this was Jesus’ silent question  - “Where is your deepest passion?”  At that point in time, the young man knew that his love for God was not as strong as his love for his possessions, causing him to turn around and walk away.  But notice Jesus’ response to his turned back – Jesus looked at him, and loved him.

God’s love for us is truly unconditional no matter how many times we turn our back to him.  But he continues to beckon, to invite, to draw, to entice and to call.  The core of Passion Week’s purpose is this - to show us how incessant and deep Jesus’ love for his Father was, so that we watch not just as passive by-standers, but that we somehow get ‘infected’ and smitten by the same way Jesus was for his Father.  After all, if this love was what saved the world through his fidelity to His Father, being similarly enamoured of and passionate about not just the same thing, but the same Person will align our hearts with Jesus’. 

Passion Week is a very apt time for us to tune in to what we are passionate about in life, and what truly drives our hearts’ desire.  Our journeying with Jesus on Good Friday ought to imagine him asking us, like the way he asked that rich young man, if we are willing to let go of what owns us, take up our cross, and follow him.  He was asking that man if his love for God went beyond mere commandment adherence. 

Only we will know if we are truly passionate about loving God or if we are only passionate about what this loving God can do for us.

1 comment:

  1. When we are only hearing the beat of the drums of the world, they will be beating out of sync with the heartbeat of Christ.  Where was Jesus’ heart at?  What was his Passion?  What drove him to be so dedicated to His cause?  What was his cause?  What was he enamoured with?  Whom was he enamoured of?“

    My attention is invariably drawn to these lines as my mind queries how does/can one’s heart, beat in sync with the heartbeat of the Lord? I was made very aware of his dying words on the cross -“I thirst” - at a revelation from a book of a Saint who said that the Lord thirsts for the souls of everyone of us -sinners (especially) and saints/saints-to-be alike. This resonated with me.

    For in my recent readings of Ephesians (yet again) - I was profoundly touched by Paul’s revelation of how God’s grace was poured on him -such that he was able to see that God’s love for all of us, his children- has made it necessary for his only Son to descend to earth and to be like one of us ( except sin) show us the way back to the Father - even having to go to the extent of ransoming us with his death.

    So Jesus’ heart, his passion mirrors and pulsates the heart and passion of his Father.........his great and saving love for all of us,his creation. As such, the great Saints like the Apostles Paul, Peter and John were his initial “collaborators” in this great salvific plan....and today every follower or Christian is thus commissioned to do let His name be known, to let His love be shown, to let His glory forever enthroned.

    It is no wonder that Paul was so amazed, excited and full of wonder to be called for such a mission. I believe that if all of us -the Church, realizes this great trust that God the Father has entrusted to us through His Son, we would be equally be amazed,excited and full of wonder and be enamoured.

    Thank you Fr for this thought-provoking post.
    God bless you