"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will" (Mt 26:39). A significant act and event in the life of Jesus Christ is his sacred passion. The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson's 2004 movie on the passion of Christ, portrays how deep and intense Christ's act of love for the redemption of the world from sin and death was, illustrating the gory, the blood-letting, bodily pain associated with his humble submission to the Father's will. It is counterintuitive to imagine that God, who is love, would demand the free obedience of his beloved son to pay such a high price for the sake of sinners. Yet, it is truly an act of love when Jesus became "obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:8) to save humanity from eternal doom. Jesus drank the chalice; he freely took upon himself the suffering that our sins earned.
Chris's passion is central to our salvation history, and the church had to dedicate an entire liturgical week to commemorate it. "Holy week is ordered to the commemoration of Christ's passion, beginning with his Messianic entrance into Jerusalem" (Universal Norm, 31). Our Lenten season reaches its crescendo in the days of the Holy week, from Monday to Thursday inclusive. It climaxes in the Sacred Triduum when we remember and spiritually participate in the paschal mystery- suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.
Today, Palm Sunday, we recall the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem to fulfill his paschal mystery. In the procession, we spiritually stepped into that sacred moment that began the journey of our redemption. Let us keep the spirit of passion alive in the days ahead. "What, really, do the liturgies of the triduum celebrate?" Nathan Mitchell raised this question in an essay titled "The Three Days of Pascha." Is it just about stepping into a historical moment and walking the way of the cross with Jesus? It is more than that. Mitchell provides an answer: "What the paschal triduum actually celebrates is mystery, not history; anamnesis, not mimesis...They celebrate not once what happened to Jesus but what is not happening among us as a people called to conversion, gathered in faith, and gifted with the spirit of holiness."
May the spirit of Christ's passion take full possession of our hearts to do the Father's will and participate actively in the liturgies and services of the Holy Thursday of the Lord's Supper, Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday), and the solemn Holy Saturday. Please pray earnestly for our catechumens who enter the last week of their year-long preparation for the reception of the sacraments of initiation. We look forward to celebrating the triumph of the Risen Christ with the elects and candidates for reception into full communion with the Catholic church at the Easter vigil in the holy night. The passion is the prayer; pray it.
In the passion of Christ,
Fr. Bernard, O.P.