Posted by: Fr Chris | April 3, 2023

Thoughts for the Passion

I have been “out of action” here throughout March because of an accident I had. The left front wheel of my power wheelchair popped off while I was going down our side street to the bus. Instead of heading to the gym, I was pitched off of the sidewalk landed in the street with the chair pinning me down. Since it weighs over 300 pounds, I was stuck. Two ladies stopped and, to their surprise and mine, were able to lift the chair off of me while the son of one retrieved the missing wheel.

I ended up having an interesting Lent, since my right ankle was torn up and the knee on my left leg got hurt, plus I was without a chair for two weeks. I have a “loaner” while I wait – and wait – for the $22,000 chair to get repaired. Sigh. By the grace of God and the help of some good people, especially our pastor Father Bubnevych, I was able to keep up with some obligations, but others had to be set aside. And I now have constant pain in my right ankle, which I really did not need. So I have had the ability to “offer up” a lot this Lent! I am putting below my short homily from the end of Great Lent, which in the Byzantine Rite concludes on the Friday before Palm Sunday.

We have reached the end of the forty days. Tomorrow Jesus arrives in Bethany and will go to the cemetery, to raise Lazarus from his grave four days after Lazarus’ death. Then of course on Sunday we will have the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and all of the events of Holy Week, so as to lead us to the Resurrection of Christ.

I mentioned on Sunday that I have spent a lot of time contemplating and studying the Passion of Christ this year, because of talks that I have been giving during Lent. On Tuesday I am going over the passion again for the college students. One of the interesting things I came across is the meditations on the wound in the right side of Jesus’ body. This is where the spear entered him, and then tore through his body so as to pierce his sacred heart. Some of the ancient Christian writers saw this opening into the body of Jesus, leading directly into his heart, as being especially significant. The Song of Songs is a book that, at a surface level, is a love poem between husband and wife, lover and beloved. But on a deeper level, it is the dialogue between the soul and God, the true lover and true beloved. In chapter 2, the lover compares his beloved to the doves who find refuge in the cliffs of the mountains. God invites the soul to find refuge in Him –

O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,     

in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face,       

let me hear your voice;     

for your voice is sweet,      

and your face is lovely.

For some Eastern Fathers, Jesus’ tortured body is the cliff, His open wound is the cleft of the rock.

He WANTS to see my face, He WANTS to hear my voice, He proclaims that MY voice is sweet to Him, MY face is lovely to Him.

We are invited to enter into that bloody wound, through which the blood and water of Jesus’ heart gushed out, and find refuge. We are invited to discover our true love there, in His pierced, wounded, holy heart. The heart for the Jews was where the entire personhood of someone lived, so when Christ gushes out blood and water, the symbols of the eucharist and baptism, from that very spot, it is the opportunity for us to enter into the personhood of Jesus through the passage of the Roman centurion’s spear.

Christ invites  us into that spot because he DESIRES us. My face is lovely to him, my voice is sweet to him, and he wants to hear me.  When we receive the consecrated gifts in Holy Communion, to be especially aware of Jesus’ invitation to come close to him, to be with him, to be pulled into him. Let us be profoundly aware that he desires each one of us, no matter how old or young, no matter what we do in life or what we hope to do. That dissolved Precious Body under the form of consecrated bread will go throughout our entire bodies, lovingly, gently, touching and caressing, the Beloved to the Lover, through the power of the Eucharist.

Let us listen in the stillness of our own hearts to the voice of our beloved, who calls us to a special intimacy with him next week, to be pierced by his love, and to seek to be united to him for the rest of our time on earth through this great mystery of love. Christ is among us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: