I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Christ's Passion is the outlet of His love for sinners

Holy Week is holy because Christ made it holy that we might become holy. As French philosopher and Dominican priest Father Antonin Sertillanges once said, "The triumph of Jesus on Palm Sunday was actually a march toward Calvary, and He knew it. Thus, the triumph of the Christian to baptism, confirmation, first Communion, marriage, the priesthood or religious profession (and the single life) is and ought to be a march to Calvary. Happy are they who realize this, consent to it, and find in this very truth their consolation." (Quotation from the book, "To Praise, To Bless, To Preach," by Peter Cameron.)

Each of us, in our own unique and distinct vocations, are on a march to Calvary, and this week Our Savior leads and illuminates the journey for us.

In Palm Sunday's first reading, from Isaiah, the prophet captures the heart of Jesus when he says, "The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them." The powerful example of Jesus speaking boldly and lovingly throughout His passion is an inspiration for all of us. We too are called to rouse the weary with our hope-filled kindness, forgiveness and encouragement of the weary.

"Morning after morning He opens my ear that I may hear ... I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard." Can any of us not be moved by His example of calmness and peacefulness in the midst of the evil accusations hurled at Him? Does this not create in our hearts a longing to be patient with those who criticize us, or happen to think less of us than they do of themselves? Do we consider it a blessing to accept their ill-treatment of us and offer it up for their salvation?

Paul tells us that Christ "did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave ... He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." We cannot read these words without desiring deep inside that this same goodness would reside within us. Would that we would be obedient to God in all things as was Christ. Yet, that is the Christ dwelling within us that is inspiring within us that very obedience.

This desire God placed within us to imitate Christ in His passion is powerful, because it comes from God. It is He who has given us this sacred inclination. We lament that it is weak in comparison with Christ's passion, but we should rejoice that it Christ's passion within us that is moving us toward Calvary.

The Gospel depicts for us Christ's last supper with His apostles. No banquet has ever been filled with so much pain and so much love. Aware of the treachery of Judas, the betrayal of Peter and the abandonment of the other ten, Jesus, nevertheless, gives them His Body to eat and His Blood to drink. For those apostles who receive His love worthily, it is a protection from the Evil One. He who once told his apostles, "Love your enemies" is now demonstrating that very love toward them!

If ever you have been in anguish, go to the Garden and enter into His anguish. The agony of losing Judas, His chosen friend, to Satan is crushing. The awareness of the enormity of mankind's sins, of the coming physical sufferings, the false accusations against Him, and the humiliation of crucifixion before His mother's eyes force His body to swear blood.

Yet, when the high priest rose and asked Jesus, "Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?" Jesus remained silent.

What a gift! Jesus remained silent! Would that our hearts could remain at peace when others think less of us than they do of themselves, or when we are not given all the credit we think we deserve. There is an interior value here that is far greater than what the world perceives as good. If Jesus can remain silent in the midst of being criticized, we have the power to do the same. This power flows from His passion. He is offering this gift to us so that it can become our passion.

Observe Him carefully. Barabbas, a notorious prisoner, is released so that Jesus might be crucified. They spat on Him and stripped off his garments, yet not a word of complaint.

Though His body was in extreme agony, this was the outlet of His love for sinners. This is the way He wanted it. This is the way His Father wanted it. His love is His victory over sin!

Just before His body finally failed, "Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up His spirit."

The spirit he gave up is the Spirit He later gave us at Pentecost. It is a Spirit that has given us a passion to enter into His passion. It is a Spirit that morning after morning opens our ears that we may hear and not rebel. It is a Spirit that gives us a well-trained tongue so that we might know how to speak to others a word that will rouse them. It is a Spirit that enables us to set our face like flint in following Him and allowing Him to live His passion in us.

Yes, the triumph of Christ within us is a march to Calvary as a stop off, before the Resurrection.

Weekly readings

Sunday, April 6

5th Sunday of Lent

Ezekiel 37:12-14

Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

Romans 8:8-11

John 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45

Monday, April 7

5th week of Lent

Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 or 13:41-62

Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6

John 8:1-11

Tuesday, April 8

5th week of Lent

Numbers 21:4-9

Psalms 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21

John 8:21-30

Wednesday, April 9

5th week of Lent

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95

Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

John 8:31-42

Thursday, April 10

5th week of Lent

Genesis 17:3-9

Psalms 105:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

John 8:51-59

Friday, April 11

5th week of Lent

Jeremiah 20:10-13

Psalms 18:2-3, 3-4, 5-6, 7

John 10:31-42

Saturday, April 12

5th week of Lent

Ezekiel 37:21-28

Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12, 13

John 11:45-56

Sunday, April 13

Palm Sunday

Isaiah 50:4-7

Philippians 2:6-11

Matthew 26:14-27:66

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