Sunday, April 9, 2017

His Passion Has Purpose

We've just heard a chapter of the greatest story ever told. If it were the last chapter it would be the saddest story ever told.

But of course it's not; there's a triumphant final chapter waiting to be read next Sunday.

Still, the Church wants us to pause at this point in the story and take a long hard look at the suffering and death of Jesus. What does his Passion say to each of us this morning?

A single verse from the Prophet Isaiah has an answer: “He was wounded for our transgressions... upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.”

Let me read you the same verse from the Jerusalem Bible, a less literal but more elegant translation: “Ours were the sufferings he bore, ours the sorrow he carried… On him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed.”  (Is. 53:4-5, JB)

Isaiah’s prophecy tells us that the sufferings of Christ were for a purpose. In the first place, to atone for our sins: he took on himself the punishment that we deserved.

In the second place, to give us peace: he took away the fears that we sinners carry around with us, namely the fear of condemnation and hopelessness.

And finally, to bring us healing: healing of the ancient wound of sin, healing of the modern wound of despair.

Listening to the Passion this morning with no sense of its purpose would really make this a sad story. We live in a world that’s horrified by waste. Throw out a half-eaten apple in any cafeteria and see how many dirty looks you get.

Yet we can “waste” Christ's sufferings, so to speak, by failing to apply their blessings to our lives. The purpose of the Passion is not accomplished fully without our involvement— without our own acceptance of the gift.

So let’s prepare for Easter by taking Christ’s Passion personally. Let's make sure we don’t waste—another word for taking for granted—a moment of his suffering or a drop of his saving blood.

The Lord has ransomed us, restored us, and healed us. We should walk through Holy Week with the gratitude that our awareness of such gifts demands.

In the face of his generous love, the least we can do is make a confession of our sins, and celebrate prayerfully the three liturgies that bring the paschal mystery to life—Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil.

Today’s bulletin contains a brochure that offers simple ways to walk with Jesus in Holy Week. I guarantee they can make this your best Easter ever.

More important, your walk with the Lord this week will help you find the true peace and healing that will make his Passion your hope.  

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