Sunday, April 01, 2012

Sundayword, 01 Apr 2012

Finding Ourselves in the Passion
Passion Sunday B (01 Apr 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Before mass we stood at the gates of Jerusalem as the Messiah King entered them. Our hearts are those very gates. How did we welcome the Messiah King? He is a very unlikely king, nothing like the messiah for which we long, not to mention Jesus’ contemporaries.

Today each one’s heart is Jerusalem’s gates. Today Jesus desires to enter our hearts and abide in us. His selfless love moves us to consider ourselves. Perhaps we might be like Peter and announce our faith with our lips but refuse to allow our hearts to own Jesus in his suffering. If that is anyone’s typical struggle, take courage, because Jesus never disavowed Peter. Jesus sought him out to restore him and build his church on him and his brother apostles. 
What is your role in our Messiah’s Passion? Third-century bishop, Gregory of Nazianzen, suggested each of us enter it by finding who we are. I cannot improve on his suggestion to help us find ourselves:
If you are a Simon of Cyrene, take up your cross and follow Christ. If you are crucified beside him like one of the thieves, now, like the good thief, acknowledge your God. For your sake, and because of your sin, Christ himself was regarded as a sinner; for his sake, therefore, you must cease to sin. Worship him who has hung upon the cross because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself. Derive some benefit from the very shame; purchase your salvation with your death. Enter paradise with Jesus, and discover how far you have fallen. Contemplate the glories there. . .
If you are a Joseph of Arimathea, go to the one who ordered his crucifixion, and ask for Christ’s body. Make you own the expiation of sins for the whole world. If you are a Nicodemus, like the man who worshiped God by night, bring spices and prepare Christ’s body for burial. If you are one of the Marys, or Salome, or Joanna, weep in the early morning. Be the first to see the stone rolled back, and even the angels perhaps, and Jesus himself.1
Praying with one’s imagination this way is nearly as old as the church! St. Ignatius of Loyola gave it a favored status, which has endured to our day. Many find Ignatian prayer more than helpful because it allows them to experience God with depth and with passion.
Ignatian prayer demands that we be honest about ourselves. Honesty includes our darkness, which the Psalmist owned and which Jesus prayed himself: My God, my God why have you abandoned me?

Like Jesus, darkness is not our end. Light longs to break forth, life desires to emerge. Light and life, Jesus demonstrated, issue in praise. Jesus prayed that psalm on the cross—no Jew prayed only the first line; the first line was its title. Jesus prayed through his darkness, and it led him to praise, the way the psalm ends: I will proclaim your name [God] to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly, I will praise you.
Praise moves with that outward direction and momentum. Mature praise has a serving texture. Jesus’ service on the cross completed his announcing the reign of God in word and deed. We are united by baptism in Jesus’ death and resurrection. That means what we do is our role in his passion as much as it is in his resurrection. In serving, evangelizing, worship, personal praying and fulfilling our vocations, we take our crosses and follow our Messiah through our darkness into the light and the life Jesus desires to give us and through us to the world.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Enter into the Trinity, who desired from their eternity to save the human race.2
  • Ask those who hailed Jesus as King to present you to Jesus.
  • In your words praise Jesus as your King.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to guide you in personal darkness to be a source of his risen light and life to others.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His prayer becomes our personal connection with Jesus, who transforms how we live and how we move through life.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. From his homily, Oratio 45, in Office of Readings, Liturgy of the Hours for Fifth Lenten Saturday.
  2. Ignatius described the divine desire in his Contemplation on the Incarnation in his Spiritual Exercises, [102].


Wiki-images by Kimberlyblaker of Jerusalem’s Golden Gate and by Ian and Wendy Sewell of Via Dolorosa sign used according to CC BY-SA 3.0.

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