Christ’s Passion is Compassion
Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 21; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66
Today is Passion Sunday. The Church recalls the entrance of Christ the Lord into Jerusalem to accomplish His Paschal Mystery. We begin the most solemn week of the Liturgical Year. Once referred to as the Great Week, we now call it the Holy Week, the culmination of our Lenten Journey to Easter.
Yesterday, Fr. Jack gave us an overview of this Holy Week and last night Fr. Guerric saw us through the end of this Great Week. Julian of Norwich, in her vision of Christ Crucified heard this assurance: ‘All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.’
For now, we reflect on the Passion of Christ that leads Him to the cross. We begin with His triumphant entry to Jerusalem as the 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.
The Lord’s passion is His saving compassion.
We processed into the church with palms as we accompanied Jesus toward 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 invariably physically, emotionally, socially, financially, and spiritually – especially in our sinfulness. We suffer in prejudice and violence, in labor to make a living, in sickness and diminishment, in 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 us 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. We reflect on how Jesus saves in His obedience, love, and especially in humility.
– Obedience saves. “Thy will be done.”
Jesus 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 – the reversal of the ancient tree from which the first of humanity, in disobedience, plucked the fruit that merited death for all of humanity.
– 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. In suffering, Jesus mirrors the total love of the Father, His all-encompassing mercy and forgiveness. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…”
– Humility saves.
Though greeted in pomp with palms and hosannas, see how Jesus comes riding a donkey, not a chariot, not a high horse, but a donkey! If it were today, Jesus hailed as king, comes not in a limousine, but a bike, not a Harley-Davidson big bike, but a pedal bicycle! His triumphal entry was in humility, not just into Jerusalem, but into human life itself. The King of kings was born in a manger. St Paul describes his kenosis – He emptied himself, though God, He took the form of man. All his life, Jesus lived in humility, not only at the beginning nor the end, but all through life, with nothing to lay down his head, dying in the most shameful and painful execution at the cross, giving up His spirit, and finally, as if to top it all, buried in a borrowed grave. In death, he was stripped of everything- his ultimate emptying of self. His humility shows that his power is nothing compared to anything earthly.
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 deep solitude, let us continue to journey to Easter in these final days of the Sacred Season of Lent.