With Palm Sunday we begin Holy Week by remembering the Lord’s Passion. The word “Passion,” like the word “love,” is a used and abused term in our day. When we speak of Passion in the case of what Our Lord underwent there’s room for multiple for understandings of passion. Passion meant suffering; Our Lord suffered a great deal for us. Passion meant having something done to you, and not necessarily something pleasant; Our Lord put up no struggle and went as a lamb to the slaughter (cf. Isaiah 53:7), the Suffering Servant in today’s First Reading.
Passion means emotion; in Luke’s account of the Last Supper Our Lord expresses how ardently he desired to be with his disciples before suffering. Passions can be good or bad; he was passionate about his cause, and we can only imagine the emotions he was experiencing knowing one of his most trusted friends would betray him, experiencing the fear in Gethsemane of what he was going to undergo, feeling the betrayal and abandonment by his disciples when things became dangerous, and the torture and ridicule he experienced.
Lastly, and most importantly for today’s liturgy, Passion means love. People are encouraged today to be passionate about what they do, and to change what they’re doing if they’re not. We’re expected to love what we do and we consider people blessed who love what they do. However, the mystery of Christ’s Passion shows us that it is not so much loving what you’re doing as those whom you love and for whom you are doing what you’re doing. You probably don’t love changing diapers, but you change them because you love your baby. Your job may be tedious or grueling, but you do it to love your family and provide for them. You may not love the cross, but you take up your cross daily for those you love. Jesus love us through the Cross.
Holy Week has begun. In imitation of Christ in these days, contemplate not what you love or don’t love, but whom you are loving through what you do. As we follow Our Lord, step by step, blow by blow, to Calvary, ask him to show you for whom he is suffering: you.
Readings: Isaiah 50:4–7; Psalm 22:8–9, 17–20, 23–24; Philippians 2:6–11; Luke 22:14–23:56. See also Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Cycle B).