April 1, 2012

Examination of Conscience for Passion Sunday

Palm Sunday. Passion Sunday. Dominica in Palmis de Passione Domini. The core narrative of the gospel is proclaimed and remembered, an account of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

The telling of the Passion draws my attention and my wonder into Christ crucified, as it always has. It is a mystery so deep, and one which I forever feel like I have only barely begun to take seriously on the levels of prayer, Christian life, and theological reflection.

What should this mean, that almighty God, the Source and Ground of all that has being, the I AM who revealed himself to Moses, is revealed as an immobilized, condemned and tortured man? What then do we mean when we talk about the power of God, when we worship this God-man precisely in this state of not being able to move his hands and feet, much less make anybody else do anything?

Have I really taken this revelation seriously? How much of my worship of 'god' is still the worship of Zeus on the one hand or the golden calf on the other? How much does my own lukewarmness and hypocrisy render my prayer and adoration into the likeness of the mocking worship of the soldiers? (And yet hope is to be found even there, for Christ died for them too.)

Have I really taken up the Cross in my own life, as Jesus commands those who would be his disciples? That is to say, have I taken seriously that the mystery of his Passion has sanctified and made saving the intersection between love and suffering? On the one hand, have I let God make my own suffering into the means by which he wills to work my salvation through the humanity of Christ? How much of this suffering have I squandered by resisting it, failing to embrace it, or self-medicating it away, trading away the blessedness God desires for me for the poisonous ennui of this world? On the other hand, have I been willing to suffer in order to really love my brothers and sisters? Have I prayed for the willingness? How often have I simply dealt with people rather than forming my behavior toward them out of a desire for their salvation, even if this should cause me pain, difficulty, or rejection? And have I rejoiced in such opportunities to embrace the intersection of love and suffering that is the Cross?

Via autem non est nisi per ardentissimum amorem crucifixi.

Most high and glorious God, I praise you and thank you for drawing my mind and heart to your crucified Son. Through him, grant me the willingness to surrender ever more to the mystery of his Cross, and to trust that whatever this might mean, it is your passionate desire for my salvation. Amen.

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