Tag Archives: Passion of Jesus Christ

When Does the Passion of Jesus Begin?

Bethany, East Jerusalem

We usually begin the story of the Passion of Jesus with his agony in the garden and end it with his crucifixion, but it’s seen differently in our liturgy. The Passion of Jesus begins on Palm Sunday– also called Passion Sunday– and continues through all the days of Holy Week. The entire week tells the story of his Passion.

When Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday he comes to the city he loves; he’s never afraid here, it’s a Holy City to him. From childhood its temple was “ his Father’s house,” where he sat with learned teachers, “listening to them and asking them questions.”(Luke 2, 41-52) Now, those teachers are deciding to put him to death.

In these early days of Holy Week, Jesus stays in Bethany, an enclave of Jerusalem, where he usually stayed, the scriptures indicate. Bethany was where the Galileans encamped when they came for the feasts. He would be surrounded by friends here. Here he raised Lazarus from the dead; they honored him at a meal here. It was hard for the temple police to reach him here.

But suddenly:

“One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.” (Matthew 26, 14-15)

Betrayal fell like a dark cloud upon Bethany. He’s no longer safe. His own friends would abandon him, a disciple would betray him.

No need to speculate on what Jesus was thinking; our scripture readings tell us. Like the Prophet Isaiah he has second thoughts: “Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength.”

Wouldn’t Jesus have thoughts of futility, loss of trust, disappointment? Still, like Isaiah he says:
“Yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.” (Isaiah 49, 1-6)

“I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother’s sons,
because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.” (Psalm 69)

But he doesn’t turn back; he doesn’t turn away.
“The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”

In these early days of Holy Week Jesus faces death in many forms. He faces rejection and betrayal and the prospect of a cruel execution. Before the soldiers roughly treat him, before he’s scourged and mocked and crowned with thorns, before nails are pounded into hands and feet and he dies on the cross, he turns to his Father and sets his “face like flint.” He will go to the Upper Room, near the temple, and give himself to his disciples, in the signs of bread and wine. He will offer them his love. He will go into the garden and earnestly pray to do his Father’s will, because that is why he came.

For commentary on the Passion of Christ see

The Silent Self

The silent self

 

Silence is

sitting still

standing still

lying still

consciously

gratefully

breathing

inspiring-

being inspired with life

and love

from him from whom these

gifts do come-

the Lord of life and love-

the living Lord Jesus.

And in the stillness

knowing

and joyfully acknowledging

that in Jesus alone

the silence of life and love is found.

Then to humbly rest

sit

stand

lie

to bow the knee

in all that satisfying silence-

and be fulfilled.

Harry Alfred WIGGETT, The silent self, in: Nigel Watts, Most this Amazing Day, Fount , 1998

The Interior Sorrows of Jesus

In the Mass for today, Luke’s Gospel brings us back to Nazareth, where Jesus lived most of his life among “his own.” But his own reject him at the beginning of his ministry in their synagogue. Their rejection surely hurt him; how could he forget it?

The crowds that welcome him to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday call him “the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” Yet so few disciples from Nazareth seem to follow him; only a few women from there will stand by his cross as he dies. From what we know of Nazareth, Jesus did not find much acceptance there. “He came to his own and his own received him not.”

The Lenten Gospels prepare us for the great mystery of Jesus’ death and Resurrection by presenting him as one who took on himself our sorrows. They place before us the physical sorrows that come from the nails, the thorns, the scourging. But let’s not forget the interior sorrows Jesus experienced, the sorrow that his rejection at Nazareth brought to him, for example.  It also was part of the mystery of his cross.

We may not experience the physical sorrows of Jesus, but we will inevitably experience interior sorrows like his. Rejection by our own, perhaps. There are many ways  we share in the passion of Christ.