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The Passion of Christ

To All,

As I was reading again Mark’s account of the Passion of Jesus (Mark 14:1 – 15:47), which we will read this Sunday, I saw even more how much of what we are capable of doing to each other is in this account of Jesus’ Passion. There is so much of human suffering revealed in the Passion of Jesus!

There is the plotting by the chief priests and scribes to arrest Jesus and put Him to death, “out of envy.” There is the self-righteous anger of those who judged the woman who anointed Jesus. There is the question the apostles ask Jesus when He tells them He will be betrayed: “Surely, it is not I?” How many times have we fallen into envy and self-righteousness! How many times have we fallen into saying to ourselves, “Surely I have no part in this? Surely, it’s not my responsibility to do anything?” There is the pride of Peter who said that even at the threat of death that he would not deny Jesus. Pride is easy to fall into, isn’t it? There is the failure of Peter, James and John to keep vigil with Jesus. There is the betrayal by Judas. There is the denial by Peter. Listen to what Peter first says: “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” Have there been times when we declined to know or understand? There is the fickleness of the mob, which at one time is hailing Jesus as king, and later, demanding His crucifixion. There are the false accusations, the taunting, the scourging, and the crucifixion itself.

And then we look at the sufferings of Jesus; the lack of understanding, the anguish Jesus feels when He is praying in the garden, the betrayal, the denial, the abandonment of those around Him out of fear. Jesus seems to be totally alone. Even the ones who are being crucified with Him taunt Him! And then there is what I consider the most devastating suffering, even more than all the physical torture and abuse; the feeling of the absence of the Father. On the Cross, Jesus says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Think of the Son of God become human, feeling distant from His Father! Like many of the saints who came after Him, Jesus knows what it’s like to feel God is not there. And yet, like the saints, Jesus still has faith, for the words He speaks are from Psalm 22, which also has the psalmist saying: “And I will live for the LORD.”

Why do I list all these things? Because I can also list all sorts of things going on today: the pandemic, and how that has affected so many people in so many ways, the mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, the still unresolved reality of white supremacy and acts of violence against people of color, including those done by those of law enforcement, the political divisions, not to mention whatever distress and hurt and grief that are going on in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Jesus can relate to it all.

And the Passion of Jesus shows us that Jesus has taken all that sin and suffering and inhumanity unto Himself, and has redeemed it for our sake! What is our response? One response is to trust in the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. We can take it all to the foot of the Cross!

Another response is to tell the story. One unique detail of Mark’s Passion account is the note that Simon, a Cyrenian, is the “father of Alexander and Rufus.” Somehow, the story of Jesus’ love was passed on to the next generation. We need to keep telling the story. And finally, our response is to love, as Jesus loves. Yes, the choice to love will involve suffering, but God will see us through to the other side. God transformed the symbol of destruction into the symbol of salvation!

If we remember how much Jesus loves us, we need not be afraid to face the Passion going on in our lives and the lives of others and of the world. We need not be afraid to love as Jesus loves. May the Passion of Jesus be always in our hearts.

I welcome any comments or questions. Thanks for your time.

 In Christ Crucified,

 Phil, CP