today is palm sunday, which begins holy week, leading up to Easter sunday, with the remembrance of Jesus’ triumphal entry into jerusalem. our message at church today was about Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death. i knew what “passion” meant, in general terms, in relation to His death, but i’d forgotten that specifically it means “suffering.”
i think it’s absolutely beautiful that “passion” means “suffering,” especially since “passion” is a word scraped so shallow these days that the general type of idea it conjures up is a long-haired, smudge-eyed woman eating chocolates in a leopard-print nightie. if i could spell the sound of frustration my mind makes when words get cheapened and diluted this way, i would.
something i didn’t know, however, is that “passion” comes from the same latin root as comes the word “patient.” it’s the word pati, which means “to suffer.” i don’t know that i’ve ever extensively thought about the deeper implications of patience and how that was such a huge part of Christ’s experience not only on this earth in general but on the cross specifically.
here’s what merriam webster’s says about “patient”: 1: bearing pains or trials calmly or without complaint. 2: manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain. 3: not hasty or impetuous. 4: steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity. 5: able or willing to bear.
in the past couple of months i’ve thought a lot about how Jesus set His face like flint toward the cross. He was on a mission to save the world and nothing and no one could stop Him, not even in the face of having sin — the antithesis of Who He is — all the weight of all the sin there ever was and is and will be, placed on His shoulders even though it wasn’t His. not even in the face of the terrible holy burning wrath of God toward sin turned directly on Him. not even when the Father turned His face away from His Son because He could not look on sin. not even when He cried “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” did He backtrack to save Himself. He was there to save us. He lived the life i could not live and died the death i should have died, so that i could truly be alive in Him, inseparable, the way it was meant to be from before mankind ever thought about rebelling against God.
and now that terrible holy burning wrath of God is transmuted into a terrible holy burning love. love that is not safe, but is love Himself, the one Person i was created for.
that is passion.
almighty and everlasting God, Who, of Thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent Thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon Him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of His great humility: mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of His patience, and also be made partakers of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. amen.
— “the sunday next before Easter,” the collect, the book of common prayer