“The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue that I might know how to speak ...” (IS 50:4)
The journey of Lent, which culminates this week with Passion Sunday as we head into Holy Week, has been a time to focus inwardly on areas we need to allow Christ to illuminate and heal with His love. Together, for 40 days we traveled inwardly and outwardly to eliminate areas of indifference in our hearts that do not reveal the love of Christ in us.
The seasons come and go as we hear words of the Passion of Jesus, from the Gospel of Matthew. It is the narrative of Jesus’ love for us proclaimed year after year. And don’t we rely on the Lord to passionately care and love us-unconditionally? We cling to His love. He teaches us that His love is not a one-way street. We cannot horde His love, we cannot be indifferent about the needs of others, the care of the underserved, the cry of the immigrant, the respect of all life, the sacredness of our planet and nature, and claim we are living His love. And it is indifference, not hate that is the opposite of love.
Perhaps there are no other words that give us hope of healing for when we have done wrong that the abandoned display of emotion as Jesus pleads: “Father forgive them they do not know what they do” (Lk). We count on Christ’s Passion, the ultimate sacrifice of love for us and others, the ultimate gift of His healing forgiveness spoken near His last breath on earth. And we know we are called daily to courageously love rightly in His mercy. When we do, we join Isaiah; we “speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” We extend the words of love from Christ to persons estranged from our Catholic faith. We give of our time to help others, we share our gifts to bring hope, and we stand up for justice and speak out. We do so with passion, the passion of Passion Sunday, in witness of two thousand years of Jesus Christ’s incarnation, two thousand years of the Church’s proclamation of the of his never-ending sacrificial love for us¾ the Passion of Jesus. We help lead others to His Passionate love by how we show them Christ in us and in our Church.
As we enter another Holy Week over 2,000 years of Christ’s presence in the world, let us proclaim His presence with our lives, and show Him our love, our passion. Let’s not remain silent, but care enough about those who are poor to offer food stored in our cupboards to the Adventist Food Pantry. Let us offer our time to volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul, help out with Marian Visitors carrying the Lord’s loving Real Presence into homes, hospitals, and convalescent homes. Let us spend time in front of the Lord in our church in prayer for the needs of others, let us actively speak out against abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, elder and child abuse, and the death penalty. Let us stand up for the reform of immigration laws to help so many of the people we know and many of whom are parts of our faith family, here and beyond, find freedom and acceptance and justice.
When we come to the Table of the Lord as a disciple of His peace and compassion let us speak to Him asking for freedom from crippling bigotry and prejudice and the courage to work toward unity. Let us be passionate and speak-out against the injustice that continues to promote political agendas and greed not human dignity. In passionate care, let us pick up the phone and speak to an elderly homebound parishioner or neighbor and let them know they are not forgotten. In passionate forgiveness let us reach out to reconcile with someone we may have judged and alienated or who has quit on us. Out of our concern for marriage, let us pray that married couples find the courage to openly communicate and renew their sacred bonds. In the passionate tender love of Jesus pray that parents and their children end the deafening silence between them and speak to one another about issues that may be uncomfortable to discuss, but weigh heavily in their hearts. All of us can be more passionate and help Holy Week be holy in us.
Another sacred week of life lays ahead, another chance to join the Passion of Jesus, another opportunity for us to be passionate for His mission in the world, at home and in our country, let Him know His love is never in vain. Let the Lord’s Passion be our passion.
Prayer: Most gracious and loving God, eliminate passive indifference and give me a generous heart, the Heart of Jesus Christ your Son. Help me to speak His Word of love to all, help me to act in that love toward all, and be less unworthy of His sacrificial grace. Amen. Blessed Holy Week, Fr. Gordon