Are you suffering on account of others? What has been done to you that hurts? Does the pain seem unending?
What if you could have foreseen these troubles? Would you have run in the opposite direction? Jesus did foresee His sufferings. And He wanted to run from it. He begged the Father, “Take the cup away!” But He chose to trust the Father’s decision. Why? Because Christ’s love for us surpassed His desire to avoid pain.
God in His great compassion hides the future from us, because He knows we are too weak to say yes to our crosses. We are so fearful of pain, we’ll reject the way of the cross that would deepen our intimacy with Him and bring us to the greater love we’ve been seeking. God cares about us so much that He keeps us in blissful ignorance.
Oh, He gives us hints. He prepares us for the sufferings we’ll have to endure. But how quickly we assume that we can’t handle the suffering! How quickly we assume it will lead to disaster, even though God is always at our side holding our hand, strengthening us, guiding us, showing us which forks in the road will lead to victory and resurrection.
This kind of relationship with God is called Passion Spirituality. The word “passion” has powerful implications. Theologically, we use it to describe the suffering love that Jesus had for each of us when He was beaten, mocked and crucified. The world counterfeits this word by applying it to strong feelings of romantic, even lustful, attraction. We also use it to refer to an obsessive drive that motivates us to do something we enjoy or greatly care about, which is why we can say that Jesus cared passionately about us when enduring The Passion.
The strong love that Jesus exhibited in His ministry and on Good Friday is a lesson on what it means to have “compassion” for others: We walk with them in their sufferings, we “suffer with”. It’s passionate love in it’s holiest form.
Passion Spirituality means being linked so closely with Jesus that we have compassion on those who cause us to suffer. This does not mean we are called to put up with abuse; usually the best, most loving way to help someone who is abusive is to set up boundaries that protect those who are being harmed and to create a safe distance until the abuser has received sufficient healing to love you the way God has called him/her to love you.
Passion Spirituality means we experience the sufferings that Jesus experienced: the difficult decision of the Garden of Gethsemane, being imprisoned by the unloving and unhealthy behavior of others, being judged unfairly and condemned with false accusations, feeling alone and abandoned, getting scourged and punished for something we did not do, mocked and persecuted, crowned with the thorns of confusion by someone’s manipulative mind-games, nailed to a situation we cannot change or a problem we cannot fix, letting go and entrusting the outcome to God, waiting to see how God will redeem the situation in the quiet darkness of the tomb, and finally — always — rising to a higher level of faith, a new life of greater holiness, a resurrection into victory.
Passion Spirituality heals us while it deepens our intimacy with Christ. Only when we love others with true passion can we understand how much Jesus loved us in the yes of Good Friday.
Use the WordBytes on this theme like a Virtual Retreat. Get your Bible and be ready to open it. Then use the Table of Contents to choose the sessions that best apply to your circumstances.
© 2002 by Terry A. Modica
Get the whole set of WordBytes on Intimacy with Jesus in the printable ebook Healing in Christ’s Passionate Love. Order it now from Catholic Digital Resources!