Personalizing the Passion of Jesus Christ

Frank - crucified

Frank - crucified

There are so many observations that we can think about while reading the passion of our Lord. Here are just a few of my thoughts.

Eternal Truth

There is no time in heaven. Time only exists in the material world, with one revolution of the earth equaling one day, and one orbit of the earth around the sun equaling one year. Heaven has none of these material things; it only has eternity. Therefore, what is present to us now was also present to Jesus 2000 years ago. He is God, after all, and He knows what will happen in the future. What happened 2000 years ago in Jerusalem is currently present to God as well.

So what does all of this mean?  Well, it means that when we meditate on His passion now, through time and space, we are giving Christ some consolation while He is suffering during that horrible event long ago. So many people never think about what He went through for us, and that must have caused Him great grief.

Each one of our sins was taken into account during His passion. This means that we can’t just blame the Jews and the Romans for scourging Jesus. We, too, are guilty for causing His pain. Only when we die will we get to see exactly which blows He received that have our name on them. The Pharisees would never have had Jesus scourged if they had known who He really was. We today, even though we know who Jesus really is, continually scourge Him by sinning.

We Are Barabbas

Barabbas, a name which means “son of the father” (‘bar abbas’), was released by the Jews instead of the real Son of the Father, Jesus. They obviously chose the wrong son of the father. In the movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” Barabbas was made to look repulsive. His obnoxious appearance represents our sinfulness, which is just as repulsive to God. We Christians today, like Barabbas, are also set free from death, while Jesus takes our place on the cross.

The Last Supper Finished at Calvary

During the Last Supper, the “cup of blessing” was the last cup of wine that was drunk. They left for the Garden of Gethsemane right after drinking it. They did not drink the final “cup of consummation” that the Passover ceremony required. In other words, they didn’t finish the Passover liturgy in the upper room. Jesus had been offered something to drink on the way to the cross, but refused. He also had prayed to “Let this ‘cup’ (of bitter suffering) pass from me, if it is possible.”  But right before He died on the cross, Jesus proclaimed, “I thirst.”  The Romans then gave him some vinegar to drink, and he drank it. Then He proclaimed, “It is finished,” and died. Therefore, the Last Supper (unbloody sacrifice) and the Crucifixion (bloody sacrifice) are one and the same thing, forever tied together by the drinking of consecrated wine in the upper room on Mount Zion and the drinking of the last bitter cup of suffering (vinegar) while on the cross on Mount Calvary. Some translations of Scripture have Jesus saying, “It is consummated,” which gives us a bridegroom imagery, where Jesus and the Church are forever wedded to mankind.

The New Adam

The book of Genesis tells us that Adam, as a result of his original sin in the Garden of Eden, would have to get bread from his toil and by his sweat, and which would bring forth thorns and thistles from the ground. Jesus, the new Adam, took on the curse of Adam, because He is the Bread of Life who sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, and who wore a crown of thorns on his head. Adam was naked and clothed by God; Jesus was clothed and stripped naked by man before the crucifixion.

In the Garden

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Judas represents us sinners today, who also betray Jesus with our sins. Peter, James, and John fell asleep in the Garden, after Jesus told them to be watchful and pray that they would not enter into temptation. They couldn’t even watch with Him one hour. They are like us today, who can’t seem to find the time to spend one hour a week in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with Christ because we are “too busy.” Peter cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant. He represents us today, who think that we can earn God’s favor by doing whatever comes naturally to us, rather than doing what comes by God’s grace (obedience to Christ).

The Passover Lamb

During the Passover, the Jews had to sacrifice a spotless lamb. They spent days inspecting the sheep, making sure that there were no spots on them. While Jesus was being judged by Pilate, he said, “I find no fault in Him.”  Pilate’s words here are unknowingly declaring the true Lamb of God to be spotless prior to His sacrifice. The judging of Jesus by Pilate should also be a reminder to us of our own future personal judgment by Christ, and how good it would be to hear Jesus say, “I find no fault in you!” Jesus was crucified at 3 PM on the 14th day of the month of Nisan, the exact hour that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple.

Sister Catherine Emmerich, in her visions of the “Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” describes the Passover Lamb being prepared as follows:

“He passed a stake through its body, fastening the front legs on a cross piece of wood; and stretching the hind ones along the stake. It bore a strong resemblance to Jesus on the cross.”

Revelations in the Passion

  • Jesus being scourged should remind us of our sins of the flesh, and how they lead to death.
  • Jesus being crowned with thorns should remind us of our sinful thoughts.
  • Jesus was blinded by the dripping blood and sweat in His eyes as a result of the thorns, and this should remind us of how our own sinful thoughts blind us to His love.
  • Jesus’ carrying of the cross is a reminder that He is there to help us carry our crosses as well, if we let Him.
  • Whereas, God formed man out of the dust and blew the breath of life into him, man caused Jesus to fall three times into the dust prior to taking the breath of life out of Him.
  • Jesus was killed with the tools of his own trade – a hammer, wood, and nails. This should remind us that while our work is important to us and our families, it will kill us spiritually if we place more importance on it than we do with Christ and our families.
  • Jesus’ dying on the cross is a reminder to us all that we too shall die, but since He has gone before us and paved the way, we have nothing to fear if we are true to Him.

Mary’s Relevance to the Passion

Jesus said from the cross, “Behold your mother,” and “Woman, behold your son.” Notice that Jesus called his mother by the universal term, “Woman,” which is what Adam called Eve. Just as Eve became the physical mother of the living at the foot of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, now Mary becomes our spiritual mother at the foot of the tree of life called the cross. Some declare that by saying “Behold your mother,” that Jesus was only talking to John here, but the text doesn’t mention John. Rather, Jesus is addressing this to His beloved disciple. Are you a beloved disciple of Christ? And besides that, if the words of Jesus only apply to who was there at the time, and not to us all, then it could be argued that the Sermon on the Mount only applies to those who were there at the time as well, because the text there says that Jesus taught the crowd. Thus, the words of Christ in the Bible are for all of us.

Blood and Water

The piercing of the side of Jesus with flowing blood and water reminds us of the birth of the Church, because blood and water are always present at birth. Just as Eve, the bride of Adam, was taken from the side of Adam, blood and water representing the Church (the bride of Christ), specifically the Eucharist and Baptism, flowed from the side of Christ. The temple in Jerusalem had water flowing through it to carry off all of the blood from the sacrificed animals. Jesus had earlier declared Himself to be the new Temple, so the blood and water coming forth from his side show us that He indeed is that new Temple.

A Greater Grace

Perhaps the most compelling observation of the Passion of Christ comes from for the Revelations of St. Bridget:

The Son of God spoke to his bride, saying: “I am the Creator of heaven and earth, and it is my true body that is consecrated on the altar. Love me with all your heart, because I have loved you and delivered myself up to my enemies of my own free will, while my friends and my Mother were left in bitter grief and mourning. When I saw the lance, the nails, the whips, and the other instruments of suffering ready, I still went on to suffer with joy. When my head was bleeding on all sides from the crown of thorns, and blood was flowing on all sides, then, even if my enemies had got hold of my heart as well, I would rather have let it be sundered and wounded than lose you. So you are extremely ungrateful, if, in return for such great charity, you do not love me. If my head was pierced and inclined on the cross for you, your head should be inclined toward humility. Since my eyes were bloody and full of tears, your eyes should keep away from pleasurable sights. Since my ears were filled with blood and heard mocking words against me, your ears should turn aside from frivolous and unfitting talk. Since my mouth was given a bitter drink to drink but was denied a sweet one, keep your own mouth from evil and let it be open for good. Since my hands were stretched out by nails, let your works, which the hands symbolize, be stretched out to the poor and to my commandments. Let your feet, that is, your affections, with which you should walk toward me, be crucified as to lusts, so that, just as I suffered in all my limbs, so may all your limbs be ready to obey me. I demand more service of you than of others, because I have given you a greater grace.”

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3 thoughts on “Personalizing the Passion of Jesus Christ”

  1. So many of us live our lives in righteous indignation of the Crucifixion of Christ. We see him as separate – as the Son of God, performing an act of horror to quench the sins of humanity. Hate or indignation bring no solace. There is no physical payback that can ever repay the debt – unless
    We can view the Crucifixion as a superlative act of Love. Through loving eyes and loving hearts we can magnify the abandonment of our Brother Christ, begging his Father to take away the cup he must drink. Since Christ is present we can only alleviate the pain of our neighbors who suffer. We can only reduce his rejection by offering our love to those that have lost their human dignity. The message of Laudato Si is the Earth Crucified – Gods creation abandoned and only selfless Love can heal the wounds.

  2. And today is the new year 5758 (years since the Flood) nine days until Yom Kiippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar when every sin committed against a neighbor had to be confessed to them in order to remain written in the Book of Life. Shanah Tova to you, Ray.

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