Today is called the Passion Sunday. What is the meaning of the word passion? The conventional meaning is the suffering of Jesus. However, some recent scholars have attempted to give a much broader meaning to this word.  Michael Borg, a Lutheran scholar says that the word passion means a deep desire that one has towards someone or something. Based on this, he says that Jesus had a deep desire for God and the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God refers to the situation in which people exist under the direct leadership of God here on earth.  Rolheiser, a Catholic theologian says that there is an unquenchable fire or a great desire or energy which lies at the center of our lives.   Jesus too had this unquenchable fire or great desire within Him. He directed His passion or the deep desire or great energy within Him for God and His Kingdom. Unfortunately many don’t know how to channel the great energy or passion inside them correctly. Some people have ruined their lives and their families by misdirecting their energy within them on violence, drugs, booze, sex and even gambling.

Being Christian means having passion (a profound desire) for God like Jesus.  Being Christian means having passion for the Kingdom of God by promoting Kingdom values like compassion, non-violence, brotherhood, sharing, equality, inclusiveness and respect for others. It was because of His passion for God and His Kingdom that Jesus performed miracles, preached, formed a community of disciples and endured suffering and death. Passion for God should be the driving force for all what we do – spiritually, liturgically, socially and professionally. When you do something with great passion for God, it gives meaning to your life however difficult it is.

The conventional meaning of the word “Passion” means the suffering of Jesus.

Jesus once said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”.

What does Jesus mean concretely to us by this statement?

First, it means that suffering is part of our lives. Here Jesus invites us to negotiate the human conditions like physical and mental pain, disappointments, frustration, incurable diseases, unfairness, illnesses and even death as part of our lives and ultimately they must be accepted without bitterness. If we fail to accept them from the hand of the Lord, we may find our life a bitter experience.

Secondly, taking up our cross and denying ourselves means that we may not, in our suffering, pass on any bitterness to those around us. (If I am unhappy, I will make sure that others around me also are unhappy).  Nailed to the Cross, Jesus never felt bitterness towards anyone. His whole body was bleeding but his heart was oozing with compassion for others even for his murders.

I wish all of you a blessed and a grace-filled Holy Week.