Passion Reflections

Passion Reflections

There is something unique about Holy Week. We all know that. Yet, this year we feel we have been robbed of special grace-filled times and opportunities because the doors of our churches are closed.

We know that, starting with Palm Sunday, we should be reliving the events which erased our past, give meaning to our present and shape our future with a promise of immortality and eternal glory.

In reading Matthew’s narrative (26:14 – 27:66), we experience shame for being the cause of what Jesus had to endure, we experience sorrow for our broken promises; but we are also willing to ease some of his horrific sufferings, if we only could.

The starting point should be to convince us that we are truly one with Christ Jesus. In past Holy Weeks, we made the effort to share in his pain now, on this earth, so as to share also in his glory. But this time we must focus on the fact that he is forgetting his pain to share in ours. It seems to be a pain mixed with anguish that attempts to overwhelm us.

As we look back into our past, up to the present, we might identify at times with the Jesus’ supporters, with one of his disciples, with one in the enthusiastic crowds who heralded him as the new king of Israel, with a distant, distracted bystander, even with his enemies.  

Actually, we can do more: we can boldly face our confusion, hesitations, fears, temporary enthusiasms, our running away, our timid hopes, our leaving him to fend for himself, even our betrayals.  

But, you might wonder, is it really necessary, this time around, to rehash our painful, even shameful past?

Yes, because Jesus, the Head of the mystical Body of which we are all members, is with us as we relive some of those different roles in the passion narrative that from that first time on includes every person ever to live on the face of the earth.  

In Christ Jesus we are certain that the Father will set everything aright: the injustices we endured and our taking advantage of those weaker than ourselves; the pain inflicted on us and the one we inflicted on others; the plans we botched and the successful ones we attributed to our skill; even our imperfect loving and all the things we gave up for the Lord during Lent—and yes, even our numbing anxiety…

In the course of this week, we should continue with our tasks at hand. We should carry out all our obligations as best we can, within the constraints imposed on us. But the uniqueness of this week should be evidenced by the time we set aside to accompany Jesus through the next seven days.  

And to accomplish this, there is no better way than to use God’s Word. 

We can choose to read one of the 4 passion narratives (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) and/or Psalms 22 and 69.  

We will be surprised to find striking similarity between the Passion narratives and what is written in those two psalms. And also remarkable similarities with our past and the feelings we harbor now in our hearts.

A note about these two psalms: if we reflect on psalms 22 and 69 during this week, we should also notice how they both have a happy ending. It is the same happy ending for which we long to gather again, hopefully soon, to celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday.

Our Mass is the reenactment, the reliving of the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord; but, this time around, we must add ourselves as living protagonists. 

This has been so decreed by our God, so that we may continue to hunker down at home with renewed hope, more courage and the certainty that the happy ending is actually an endless life reserved by Jesus in his Kingdom for all of us.

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Written by
Fr Dino Vanin