It is such an overused word, so overused that its meaning has been devalued to ‘really like’ or ‘it’s my thing’. It’s such a pity, for once it meant ‘strong and barely controllable emotion…’ Passion takes its roots from the Greek, pascho, to suffer. In the Latin translation of the scriptures (the Vulgate) the word passio specifically referred to Jesus’ suffering, his agony in the garden, his trial, his being stripped of his clothes and whipped, his humiliating crowning with thorns, the bearing of his cross, his crucifixion.
Passion came to mean something for which we would suffer or endure, for to follow our passion would be a most difficult task. A young singer desperate to sing for Opera Australia might plot and plan to achieve that goal, will endure poverty, disappointment and lowly roles in order that their passion may be satisfied. What is your real passion? What would you endure for your passion?
Like you, I suspect, my passion is my family. This passion is born from a deep desire to envelop, nourish and protect – even though they are independent adults! This passion is life-giving and life-affirming, for it requires the total gift of myself for those whom I love and in return – I am loved.
At the centre of our faith is the proclamation of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus (the kerygma) and it is through Jesus’ Passion and Death that we are overwhelmed by his utter self-giving, he chooses this pain as a life-offering for those whom he loves. That is, us.
The journey into Jerusalem on a donkey was the beginning of Jesus’ journey to the hill of Calvary. This story was retold last Sunday. We call it Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. On this day the entire Passion narrative was read – each aspect of his pain and suffering was recounted, each a further token of his love, each a further step towards the cross.
It is from these darkest moments, and indeed the darkest moment of all, that God’s greatest plan is revealed: Jesus must die if he is to rise from the dead. The pivotal act of his death sets in motion a new era in humanity’s story of salvation. Jesus’ Passion is what makes it possible for us to hope and dream, to anticipate eternal life. His blood, his life, is poured out for many (Matthew 26:28) for you and me so that we may live life, live it to the full.
Allow yourself the opportunity to remember this passion story this coming Easter: reflect, pray, worship. Remember how much you are loved.
Mr Peter Douglas
Director of Faith and Mission