Homily for 10 April 2022 by Fr. Gerard Jonas
Christ’s Passion is Compassion
Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 21; Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 22:14-23:56
Today is Passion Sunday, the beginning of the Holy Week, the culmination of our Lenten Journey to Easter.
We reflect on the Passion of Christ that leads Him to the cross. We begin with His triumphant entry to Jerusalem as a messianic king- humble, peaceful, and with a servant’s attitude as the Prophet Isaiah tells. We end at the Cross, the throne from which Jesus the Christ reigns by loving and mercifully forgiving. Luke’s Gospel can indeed be summarized by saying that it reveals the love of Jesus through His all-encompassing mercy and forgiveness. The Lord’s passion is His saving compassion.
We processed into the church with palms as we accompany Jesus towards the end of His salvific journey. But now we realize that it is He who actually accompanies us through our life’s journey. We go through life in which suffering may be inevitable. We suffer in prejudice and violence, in labor to make a living, in sickness and poverty, in silent fears and anxieties, and especially in our sinfulness. We pray that Jesus may save us from all our struggles in life. But no, Christ saves not from but in our sufferings. He accompanies us through all our struggles. In His love and compassionate mercy as the Good Shepherd, He shows us the way through all these sufferings.
The passion of Christ as part of the Paschal Mystery saves. Note how:
– Obedience saves. “Thy will be done.”
Christ’s obedience through his passion unto death merits our salvation. He prayed at Mount Olives, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” The cross now stands as the new tree of obedience on which hangs the Savior Jesus Christ. It is the reversal of the ancient tree from which the first of humanity, in disobedience, plucked the fruit that merited death for all of humanity.
– Prayer saves. “I have prayed that your own faith may not fail.”
Overwhelmed by fear, Peter denied Jesus but never despaired like Judas who betrayed Him. The Lord’s prayer sustained Peter. The criminal who was crucified along with Jesus recognized Him and also prayed, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” and was assured. “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
– Forgiveness saves. “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Hanging on the Cross in excruciating pain. Yes, this adjective ‘excruciating,’ which means a high level of intensity, comes from the idea of the crucifixion itself. We can just imagine the intense anguish and physical pain of the nail wounds and of hanging from the nails themselves. But all through it, Jesus forgives. He even makes excuses, “They know not what they do.” His loving forgiveness does not condemn but saves.
– Love saves
By loving unto death on the cross, Jesus crystallized God’s love for humanity in his very person. The sole motive for his sacrificial death on the cross is the ineffable mystery of divine love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”.
Yes, Christ’s Passion is Compassion
Jesus did not just watch humanity suffer. Jesus joined in our human suffering and turned it into a saving act. He endured the worst that humanity can do to one another.
Let us feel how the Lord accompanies us all through life and covers us with His prayers to sustain us in our faith, especially in challenging times, so we too, with Him, can cry out to God, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Not only to end the rigors of suffering but to begin anew our life in God. May we never become a cross to one another but instead, take it as our cross to lead each other to Christ who suffers for and with us for our salvation.
In solitude, let us continue to journey to Easter in these final days of the Sacred Season of Lent.