Weekend Reflections for 3/18/16
PASSION OF CHRIST
For many Christ's Passion is a confounding and horrible mystery. We cannot understand why the Father allowed this. However, through our prayer and reflection on the Last Supper and Eucharist we can gain some understanding of Christ's passion and death. The Eucharist is the sign of Jesus love for us, of his desire to be one with us. The Eucharist is where Jesus is; Eucharist is what gives everything that happens to Him purpose and meaning. We are caught up in a love that holds nothing back, a love that accepts even death, seeing death-in-faith as no limit to God's love.
The Last Supper and Eucharist can become the lens through which we try to take in and comprehend why God and Jesus have allowed this. The Last Supper and Eucharist says Jesus passion is about his desire to be one with us, to share himself as completely as he can, to do this for all times, now in this life and forever in the Risen life.
Praying on the passion of our Lord has been described as an invitation to a most intimate and personal experience at the very core of Jesus being. The prayer with Jesus can be so stark, so simple, so sacred, so profound, that any attempt even to verbalize the experience may seem to be a violation of the sacred. It is a gift from our Lord to take us into all of this and allow us to experience his passion in a way that will deepen, and strengthen our love for Him as well as mold the shape and manner of our discipleship.
My feelings can seem out of context and proportion to what I am considering, i.e., I don't feel as sorrowful as I believe I should or grieve as I believe I should. But I have to accept the feelings with which Christ graces my prayer.
Moreover, for many it frustrating not to be able to do anything-but just be there. This seems so inadequate and I am not content with that. Perhaps all you can do is be present as a friend of Christ and ask that you be allowed to share in his sufferings. But my determination and effort to remain with Christ in itself can be a great grace.
Christ should be the focus of "passion prayer," to be with him and feel for him as he suffers for me. However, to maintain this focus is often not an easy task. As Joe Tetlow comments, "These are terrible events, and we are keeping a death watch." Moreover, in praying the passion the focus can easily change from Christ to me: would I be as cowardly as Peter or Pilate, would I have fled as the other apostles did, how would I withstood the soldiers' lashes?
In order to maintain to keep Christ at the heart of your prayer, Ignatius Loyola stressses noticing what is happening inside of Christ; how he suffers in his humanity; how the divinity as it were is put aside; recalling that he suffers for my sins and for love of me.
In Jesus passion we will find very deep if not the deepest insights into his humanity, how fully he lived our life, how fully human he is; his vulnerability, (he had not experienced the Resurrection); his frustration, his disappointment, his suffering, his great love for me, his willingness to put himself out for love of me.
-Fr. Jim Blumeyer, S.J.