Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Bulletin Date: 
Sunday, April 9, 2017

Holy Week

Passion Sunday introduces us to a week of intense reflection on the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. What difference will it make in our lives two weeks, or two months, from now? St. Pope John Paul II begins the encyclical Mission of the Redeemer, by reiterating a truth he set forth in his very first encyclical: "The Church’s fundamental function in every age, and particularly in ours, is to direct man’s gaze, to point the awareness and experience of the whole of humanity toward the mystery of Christ." This statement presupposes that we, the Church, have sufficiently gazed upon and contemplated the mystery of Christ ourselves, so that it has become a compelling force in our lives.

St. Pope John Paul II goes on to explain why we, and all of humanity, need to direct our gaze to him: “In him, and only in him, are we set free from all alienation and doubt, from slavery to the power of sin and death. Christ is truly ‘our peace’ (Eph 2:14); ‘the love of Christ impels us’ (2 Cor 5:14) giving meaning and joy to our life.” He further explains, “Indeed, all people are searching for it, albeit at times in a confused way, and have a right to know the value of this gift and to approach it freely.” In these two statements the Holy Father explains the benefits we personally will receive by coming to know the Savior more fully.

Hopefully during this Holy Week we will slow down our other activities and concentrate on grasping and understanding all that Jesus went through on our behalf. But what about the remaining fifty-one weeks, or for that matter, the remaining weeks of our lives? Should we not during this week, along with those being newly baptized, renew our baptismal vows to be lifelong disciples of Jesus?

Richard McBrien, in his classic work, Catholicism, explains, "To become a disciple, therefore was to enter into a lifelong relationship with Jesus, . . . discipleship was not only a process of learning, but of shaping one’s whole life around the Master without reservation." Many people gazed on Jesus’ death on the cross, some mocked, some cried, some were duly impressed, and a few dedicated their lives to believe and follow his instructions. Those few who committed their lives to knowing and following Christ, subsequently turned their world upside down with the Good News we celebrate this week. During this coming week we will be faced with several important choices. The first very simply is; Will we longingly gaze on Jesus’ agony and death, and his resurrection for us, or will we only give him a cursory glance? The Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Eucharistic Adoration, and a host of spiritual readings are all means we can use to longingly and continually reflect on his passion and resurrection. Will we? Then, if we choose to gaze at length on our Savior’s passion we will have another choice. Will we only briefly respond emotionally to all he has done for us, or will we dedicate our lives to believing and following him? This moving and motivating experience need not only take place once a year during Lent and Easter, but it can be a constant and recurring way of life. Philippians 2:5, the verse preceding this week’s second reading, encourages us to let Christ’s mind be in us, in our mind. The ability to live the year controlled by Christ is dependent on this ongoing reflection of Christ’s humility and passion.

Perhaps there may be no better finale to this week than to dedicate ourselves to follow Jesus for a lifetime, and for the remainder of our life, by our actions and words, direct the gaze of others to him. If we do the latter it will make a difference in our lives not just for two days, two weeks, or even two months, but a difference that will last a lifetime. (emmausjourney)

God Bless! Fr. Elmer