Thursday, March 25, 2010

From Action to Passion

Palm Sunday 2007

Many people measure their own worth and that of others by what they can do. If you are talented and able to do many things, you are considered a very special and worthy person. If you are not able to do many things, people often consider you as useless. We all value our autonomy and ability to do things on our own. Only young children and old people need to have things done for them. We feel extremely helpless and vulnerable when we are not able to do things for ourselves. That is why many people become very angry and frustrated and sometimes depress whenever they become sick. Others go through a crisis when they grow old, because they feel that they are not wanted anymore. Other elderly people also feel that they have loss control over their lives. When they were younger, they use to take care of the needs of their children. Many find it hard to accept that their children have now to take care of them.

In conclusion, we value action and activities over no action or a lack of it. We must always be doing something. If not, we feel useless and helpless. We feel totally unworthy. Today’s liturgy and the liturgy of this entire Holy Week gives us an entirely different picture. Jesus does not move from a set of activities to more activities. In fact, Jesus moves from being active to being passive. Jesus shows through the last week of his life that the value of life is not dependent on what we can do but rather on what God can do for us. When we are active and able to do things for ourselves, there is no room for God’s help. We don’t need God if we can solve our own problems. We don’t need God’s help if we can do things on our own. On the other hand, when we are helpless, financially, spirituality, emotionally, physically, we come to realize how much we need God in our lives. In fact, it is when we are powerless and helpless that we come to realize that life is meaningless without God.

Palm Sunday is also called Passion Sunday. Passion comes from the same root word for ‘passive.’ Jesus undergoes a change in his ministry. Before this week, we read of how Jesus performed miracles and taught the thousands that came to him. He was extremely active in his ministry. Somehow, he was not very successful in his active ministry. Many people came to him for miracles and healing. But very few actually decided to follow him. Even his closest friends and disciples will abandon him at the end of his life. His life of action will end in failure. But today, being the first day of Holy Week, a great change will take place. From active ministry, he is now going to become passive. He will be arrested, persecuted, nailed to the cross and finally left to die. He will become powerless and helpless. But it is in his powerlessness that he will accomplish our salvation. In other words, a life of failure will end in victory because God is victorious over sin and death.

When we look around us, we also see this same process happening – from being active to being passive. It is frightening process because no one likes to be helpless or powerless. No one likes to grow old and become useless. No one likes become sick and needing to be cared for. No one likes loosing their securities. But, we also realize that unless we move from the active to the passive, we will never allow God to be in control. If we continue attempting to control our lives and the lives of others, we will meet with failure. Victory and success is only guaranteed when we are prepared to let go and let God take control.

Let us enter Holy Week while keeping all of these in mind. Let us journey with Jesus from being active to being passive. Let us journey with Jesus as we slowly die to ourselves and to our false securities. Let us journey with Jesus to the cross and everlasting life thereafter.

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