We hear the story of the Passion twice a year – on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Do you ever feel like – Jesus – why don’t you say something? Why don’t you defend yourself? I mean – we KNOW you have the power to convince Pilate and the other leaders – but you say almost nothing. Why don’t you try to save yourself?
I think the answer is ‘Passion’. We normally use that word Passion to refer to the suffering and death of Jesus – but let’s look at it from another perspective. Where else do we use the word Passion? In the love between a man and a woman, for example, they can experience a passionate kiss. They are said to ‘have a passion’ for each other. This may seem weird to be talking about this kind of Passion on Good Friday, but stick with me.
In the Theology of the Body, the word Eros is used a lot – and as you all know, Eros is one of the four Greek words for Love (whereas English just has one) - Eros normally what we think of as erotic love – maybe better translated as ‘passionate love’ - like the passion between and man and woman. Christopher West, in reflecting on the teachings of St JPII, goes a little deeper – Eros is our DESIRE – it is what MAKES us Passionate – it is the fuel that drives us to do anything in life. Eros calls us out of our SELF to seek to be with another person. That’s the key – Eros is what makes us come out of our selfishness for the save of someone else. Eros IS our Passion - think about it. If you and I have a Passion for something, it means we love something – for example,
- a firefighter has a passion for firefighting… and doesn’t mind getting out of bed – sometimes more than once in a night – for the chance to help someone.
- Maybe you’re a student learning to be a nurse or engineer or plumber – what drives you to spend all those hours studying?
- Everyone with a job – what gets you out of bed to drag yourself to spend yet another day in drudgery?
- Parents – what drives you to stay up all night with a sick child – and to provide for these little rug-rats who don’t even seem to appreciate what you do for them?
I suggest – if you can answer that question for yourself – you’ll identify your passion – the one thing in your life which drives you to act – to study – to get off the couch or out of bed – to willingly put yourself through the pain.
Jesus didn’t try to save himself because the cross WAS his passion. His greatest desire, his Eros, was to establish the Kingdom of God – and the path to do that led right through the cross – so to try to save himself would have been going against his passion.
So – on this Good Friday – yes, we glorify Jesus and we’re thankful for all he went through for us – but don’t stop there. Think about what DROVE him to do it… think about how madly he loved us – how madly he loves YOU. Think how passionately He must have wanted to bring us ALL into the kingdom…
Can we love Him as much as He loves us? Can we seek the kingdom with the same unwavering intensity that led him to the cross? The message of the cross is that we only find true joy in life when we identify our deepest desire – our Eros – our Passion.
Our life is complete when we find something – or more likely – some ONE to give our life to.