Why is the passion of Christ so named?
These days everything, we are told requires “passion”, from watching or playing football, at work, in relationships, when selling, in our lives in general. We are informed that we need it to succeed, to reach our goals, to be fulfilled. The lack of it is often regarded as a fault.
Truth be told, however we may profess to be “passionate” about any or all of these things, we do not constantly live our lives in such a place, rather it is peaks and troughs, highs and lows.
This use of the word “passion” when set as the essential catalyst for so much sets us up for a fall, as everything has to come from us.
The problem with that, is anything created and reliant on us and our world is ultimately fallible and inconsistent. However “Passionate” we are we will always reach a compromise, a result of our good and bad days, our conflicting desires whether on our own or as part of a team.
Christ’s passion however, was nothing like this, his passion comes from the Latin “passio”, which means, simply, “suffering”.
That is actually what we are approaching, the event of Christ suffering a terrible torture for us.
He did so on our behalf. He did this so that he could “become” sin enabling us to come before god as righteous as we can be.
His suffering was perfect, the gateway for our salvation.
The Greek Josephus, and the Roman historian Tacitus who recorded the event in independent documents say that they were suprised this suffering inflicted by Pilate and the establishment, and more that the subsequent persecution of the Jewish sect of Christians did not “snuff the idea out” . We know today that despite the persecution that existed and still exists Christianity continues to grow due to the man and his many miracles (that was the ancient chroniclers explanation at the time).
This victory over so much from such humble beginnings, from such lowly people, would not and could have happened if the catalyst had been the solely result of our inconsistent and fallible work. However passionate the early Christians clearly were they were as human as us. They had the same weaknesses, the same errant ways. However passionate they may have been they could not have been the foundation of so much alone.
We know that we were not left as orphans and the holy spirit called the early Christians and calls people to this very day!
So although they had passion without gods help we would not be here today. They had a mission to make the church and christs message heard and understood by a world that knew him not.
Our “passion” this lent must be, to try make his suffering worthwhile, and to be more passionate about the gift he gave us. So that his passion, his suffering continues to bear fruit.
The definition of Grace is a gift given that is undeserved, that the recipient of the gift did nothing to deserve. Christ gift was and is delivered by grace to all of us.
This gift means that all his children should to continue to bemuse and befuddle the many who would wish his message of love and resurrection from the death of sin to simply “fade away” as Tacitus expected. This level of gift entitles him to demand the highest efforts from us. It legitimizes his demand that everyone should strive to reach the door he opened for us all.
We should love God with all our heart and soul as he requested, the same god who he allowed us to come before.
We should love our neighbour as ourselves as that is SO clearly what the world needs now.
We should try and bare and share the fruits of his suffering, his “passio”, and his passion for us.
His love, this ultimate act of grace should be the catalyst for us to ask him further into our lives so that by his grace we can change and prioritise our lives making the top of the list, the things that actually matter.
As holy week approaches, that should be our goal.
That Takes passion.