“P” is for Passion (March 6, 2013)

…Opening To…

O Lord, you are my Lord and my God, and I have never seen you. You have made and remade me and bestowed on me all the good that I possess. (St. Anselm, Proslogion)

…Listening In…

Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” (Mark 8:31; context)

…Filling Up…

This Lent, we are exploring our faith by running through the alphabet. Today, “P” is for Passion. In secular society, this word is most often used in one of these three contexts: (1) torrid celebrity love affairs that become tabloid-fodder; (2) the syllabi of motivational speakers; and (3) luxury car commercials. The word “passion” has come to mean a sort of heightened emotional state that drives the individual to do something.

Now, while this definition isn’t a bad one, it often misses the connotation that the etymology of the word brings out. “Passion” comes from a Latin word that means “to suffer.” In church, we tend to capitalize this word and use it when we talk about Jesus’ final week leading up to and including his crucifixion. The Passion (capital-P) comprehends the days of Jesus’ suffering at the hands of the chief priests and the scribes and the Romans and the crowds of people who just a few days before had welcomed him into Jerusalem as a hero.

But while Jesus certainly did suffer, we can also define his Passion with the more modern definition. He suffered out of love – not the torrid infatuation of the tabloids, but the self-sacrificial love of God. He suffered because it was his life’s destiny – not the cheap, “5 steps to finding your passion” of the motivational speaker, but the deep, abiding sense of a call from God. He suffered because his sacrifice was worth it – not the worth of transient comforts like the luxury car, but the worthiness of redeeming the sins of the whole world.

…Praying For…

Dear God, by your Son’s blessed Passion, he reconnected people for all time, including me, to the source of all passions. Help me to discern how I can deploy my own particular constellation of passions to serve you best. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, grateful for the word that you speak daily into my soul, the word that continues to create me and helps me to grow.

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