By Sharon Wilson
Today, Palm Sunday, we read the Passion of Christ at Mass. It is such a strange day. We enter into the church singing Hosanna and waving palm branches and we leave solemnly after reflecting on the death of Christ.
The word Passion has always confused me. It seems to be a paradox like how we call Good Friday – “good.” The word passion has two meanings. The “sufferings of Christ” and a strong likening or enthusiasm. It seems impossible that these two meanings can come from the same root word “passio” in Latin meaning suffering or enduring.
So how does a word that is derived from suffering become one that also represents strong liking or enthusiasm?
I recently came across a video by Brene Brown where she talks about what love looks like.
In the video (Click on the picture below) she explains Christ’s passion in one of the best ways I have ever seen. Love, real love is what Jesus shows us. It is passionate love that will even endure suffering for someone else. That is love, that is suffering, that is passion.
I think of my own puny experience of passion and suffering and love. I have never entered willingly into suffering but through love I have experienced the most incredible pain. The loss of my son, a loved one moving away, disagreements with my spouse. None of these things would give me pain had I not loved so much. It begs the question “If we avoid suffering, do we avoid love?”
We live in a society that avoids suffering. I know that seeking my own comfort above all else usually leaves me feeling miserable. But can we really avoid suffering?
There is a quote by Thomas Merton from The Seven Storey Mountain that illustrates this:
Indeed, the truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most: and his suffering comes to him from things so little and so trivial that one can say that it is no longer objective at all. … This is another of the great perversions by which the devil uses our philosophies to turn our whole nature inside out, and eviscerate all our capacities for good, turning them against ourselves.
My personal spiritual journey brought be into God’s loving presence in a big way. I fell in love with God hard! I was swept away and mystified that God was real and that he knew me and loved me! From the great desire to serve Him, I experienced some great disappointments. Would I change that love to avoid the pain? Never, in fact it has been only through that pain that I have grown.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t advocate seeking out pain and suffering. Don’t worry it will find you.
But seeking out ways to love and to love greatly, that is how we can imitate Christ’s passion in both meanings of the word.
Pray: We are entering into Holy Week where we focus on the last supper, the death and the resurrection of Christ. Try praying not about how you can suffer with Christ but how you can love even more and accept the suffering that it may bring.
About the Author:
Sharon Wilson – Wife, Mother, Writer, Catholic Speaker, and a WINE Specialist. Sharon has a degree in education and has worked as a freelance writer, Respect Life Coordinator, a teacher, in advertising, radio, buyer and in youth advocacy – She even rode an elephant in the circus once! Sharon speaks, writes and shares about God’s healing and about the great gift of being Catholic.
Beautiful insight into the celebration of Palm Sunday, the meaning of love and the understanding of suffering. Thanks, Sharon!
This is an awesome reflection on how we can embrace suffering rather than run from it. I say awesome, because I am in awe at the fact that Jesus accepted and walked toward the suffering that God allowed Him to endure FOR US. I am in awe at the thought that when I run away from suffering, it only brings more suffering – this will be my meditation for today.
Thank you for this reflection that comes to us when we begin Holy Week. You are a gifted writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Thank you for sharing your gift with us.
Blessings to you and your family,
Excellent reflection on suffering, Sharon. It is so true that we go so far to avoid suffering that we start stumbling over minor issues and fall into the devil’s lair.