Passion Sunday—7 April AD 2019
Support our Building Fund
[Mass Text - Latin]
[Mass Text - English]
Today we begin the
season known as “Passiontide” — the two weeks in which the Church asks us to
meditate very closely on the major events of our salvation—the Passion,
Death, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We should think of it as
a deepening Lenten observance—with an emphasis on the need for renewing our
relationship with God, and understanding the serious consequences of
breaking that relationship through sin, or through indifference to the love
Saint Paul tries to
put this into perspective in today's Epistle. He reminds us that in the Old
Testament the Jewish people could offer God nothing more than the sacrifice
of a few of their animals; a goat, a calf, perhaps a pigeon or a dove. And
the priests who offered those animal sacrifices for them were just sinful
men like themselves. A very poor payback for all of the liberties they were
accustomed to taking with God's Commandments. But now, with our Lord's
sacrifice, we have the ability to offer God something perfect. We now have
the perfect sacrifice, offered by the perfect priest.
It is God, Himself,
Jesus Christ, the Son of God—true God and true man -- who offers Himself up
for our sins. By undergoing His Passion on the Cross, He has, once and for
all time, freed us from the debt of sin—a debt that we had absolutely no way
to repay on our own.
Let me call your
attention to this word we use: “Passion.” It is misunderstood by most
modern people. They usually think it has something to do with steamy (and
unlikely) romances, like those in the soap operas. Often, people don't
understand what we mean by the “Passion of Christ.” Now, obviously it has
nothing to do with over-acted dramas. But in a sense, it does have to do
with romance—the truest sort of love—the love of God, giving Himself
unselfishly for the people whom He loves, in spite of their unworthiness and
defined, is the opposite of “action.” “Action” means taking the initiative;
seizing the situation, and doing what one desires, or needs to do.
“Passion” is quite the opposite. It means abandoning one's self; giving up
one's free will, and surrendering one's self to the designs of another.
In the immediate
sense, our Lord surrendered Himself to the will of the Jews and the Romans
who crucified Him. The Creator gave Himself over to the will of His
creatures—who were free to accept or reject Him—to love Him or to hate Him.
In a more general
sense, our Lord surrendered Himself to our wills. For we are also His
creatures—likewise able to accept or reject Him.
But in the eternal
sense—infinitely more important—our Lord has united Himself to all humanity,
and surrendered Himself -- and us along with Him—to the will of the Father.
The creatures are thus given over to the Creator. That is the true essence
of our salvation—the reuniting of our wills with the will of God. In Jesus
Christ, and in His Passion, we who are unable to repay anything, are
forgiven of everything. Man and God are re-united in the Passion of the
Now, I mentioned that
in the coming two weeks we should meditate very closely on the events of
this Passion. That meditation has to be introspective—that means that we
have to understand not only what the Passion is, but how we should relate to
Our Lord endured
cruel suffering—poured out His Blood—and died for us. Infinite God gave
Himself up for His lowly creatures.
Yet all too often, we
The Church is in deep
trouble, but we are reluctant to do anything except watch; “That's the
pope's problem,” we say, “or the bishop's or the priest's.” If we were
truly grateful for the Passion, we would be falling all over ourselves
looking for ways to help; with prayer, and contributions, and personal
Civil society is in
much the same trouble. The world is upside down! Influential people
promote sin, and frustrate goodness. We are well on our way to becoming a
society that does not even know God. Again, if we were sincere in our
Faith, and grateful to God, we would be trying to do something about it.
Our own families
experience many of the same difficulties—indeed, our own personal lives. Do
we do anything about it?? Do we pray? Are we doing penance? Are we giving
good example? Are we making the effort?
The next two weeks
contain the key to changing all that. The Masses and ceremonies of
Passiontide give us wonderful material for meditation—to share our Lord's
pain, to understand His anguish, to return His love.
I hope that the
Masses of the next two weeks, the stations of the Cross, the liturgy of Good
Friday, will be packed with people, who have come to understand the love of
God, and to get serious about returning that love.
Make no mistake about
it—our world is at a cross roads—and what we do during the next two weeks,
and during the next few years, will make all the difference—both for society
on earth, and for our own personal salvation.
Don't be indifferent
to the God who loved you so much that He gave Himself up to die for love of