Have you ever had an encounter with God that left you in tears because you understood the power of His goodness? I will never forget the first time I watched Passion of the Christ a few years ago and how it brought me into the life of Christ in such a powerful way. I watched Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem to accomplish the Paschal Mystery, His passion and resurrection with fresh eyes. Seeing Jesus portrayed in His humanity and divinity brought home for me the magnitude of suffering, rejection, and betrayal He faced. I may start my Spiritual Director’s practice of watching this movie on Good Friday. Will you join us?
The Passion of Christ, from patior in Latin, means suffer and refers to those sufferings our Lord endured for our redemption. Archeological discoveries combined with modern medical examination provide an accurate picture of what our Lord endured. In an age where the risen Jesus appears on the cross and suffering and sacrifice have become unpopular terms, we must not lose sight of the reality of the passion.
Through the Passion, we understand that worldly glory is fleeting. Crowds that chanted “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” only five days later cried, “Crucify him!” How their fickleness contrasts with Jesus’ constancy, remaining faithful, humble, and obedient to death, even death on a cross. Despite the beating, insults and spitting, Jesus knew full well that he would not be put to shame. When we are united to him, neither will we, for it is in His Passion that we find the forgiveness of our sins and the strength to rise above persecution, injustice, and suffering. What he endured for you and me to be set free and have the gift of eternal life overwhelms me. It is true love and helps me grow in trust in God’s goodness.
This past year has been a year of loss for us all. In addition to these losses, we have all felt from the pandemic, I have wrestled with finding a new identity for myself. After a successful 35-year career, I found myself in a very different season of life. I answered the call to step away from where I had spent most of my time to center my life around loving and supporting my husband in his bone marrow transplant journey to recovery. Because of his numerous complications, he was alone at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center under the watchful eyes of the wonderful transplant team, and I was at home alone keeping myself isolated and safe for when he came home. It was during this time that I was called into a deeper relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Through prayer and meditation, I matured in discovering the truth, goodness, and beauty of my faith. During the past few weeks of Lent, I have grown in trust and confidence in this goodness which translates to a peaceful heart.
My trust is in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My destiny is in your hands.Focus on His truth, Psalm 31:15-16
It has helped getting to know Jesus through the eyes of His mother in the Rosary I pray daily. The Sorrowful Mysteries have held special meaning during this season I found myself in. These mysteries cover the events of Holy Thursday, after the Last Supper through the Crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday. If you are not familiar with the Rosary, each mystery is associated with a particular fruit or virtue, which is illustrated by the actions of Christ and Mary in the event commemorated by that mystery. While meditating on the mysteries we also pray for those fruits or virtues to manifest in our own life. We pray the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday and Friday, as well as the Sundays of Lent.
- First Sorrowful Mystery, The Agony in the Garden. Jesus prays in Gethsemane on the night before His death. Fruit of the mystery: conformity to God’s will. Pray for us, Mary Mother of Sorrows, that we may humbly accept God’s will in all things.
- Second Sorrowful Mystery, The Scourging at the Pillar. Christ is scourged by the soldiers at Pilate’s command. Fruit of the mystery: mortification (self-sacrifice and self-denial). Pray for us Mary, Mother of Sorrows, that we may accept sufferings and setbacks out of love for Christ.
- Third Sorrowful Mystery, The Crowning with Thorns. The soldiers weave a crown of thorns and press it onto Christ’s head. Fruit of the mystery: moral courage. Pray for us Mary, Mother of Sorrows, that we may witness to the Gospel, even at cost to ourselves.
- Fourth Sorrowful Mystery, The Carrying of the Cross. Jesus carries his heavy cross to Calvary. Fruit of the mystery: patience. Pray for us Mary, Mother of Sorrows, that we may practice patience with ourselves and with others.
- Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, The Crucifixion. Jesus is nailed to the Cross and dies. Fruit of the mystery: salvation. Pray for us Mary, Mother of Sorrows, that Christ’s death on the Cross may save us from sin and condemnation.
As we contemplate Holy Week on this Palm Sunday, we must remember what our Lord endured for our salvation. He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin on the altar of the cross and washed away our sins with His blood. We must also recognize our responsibility to ask for forgiveness for the sin in our life. For it is sin, big or small, that made Christ suffer the torment of the cross. Our crucified Lord on the cross is a vivid image of His love for us. Meditating on His passion will strengthen us against temptation, move us to frequent confession and keep us on the path of salvation. Jesus, I trust in You!
Jacquelyne Rocan and I will be sharing our experience of Holy Week with you, focusing on key elements of our rich faith tradition, shining a light on beauty and goodness. We pray our words might inspire you to encounter God’s goodness in your heart.
Trusting in God’s goodness,