Solemn Commemoration of the Passion
I Corinthians 1:18-25
Today we Passionists celebrate a very special feast, The Solemn Commemoration of the Passion. This is the titular Feast of our Congregation and we celebrate it each year on the Friday before Ash Wednesday. St. Paul of the Cross instituted this feast as a celebration of the great love that Christ has for us as witnessed by His self gift in the Passion. We are forgiven our sins and have eternal life with God because of Christ’s great love for us.
The first reading, taken from the Prophet Isaiah, describes how complete was the Suffering Servants self gift. "He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem." Ultimately, he is destroyed. Yet, because he was innocent and had given his life for others, God, recognizing the love at the heart of his sacrifice, overcomes the guilt of us all.
Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, testifies to the power of Christ’s sacrificial love and reflects on how different the wisdom of God is from that of men.
In the Gospel we hear again the stark re-telling of the final events of Christ’s life: his painful struggle to Golgotha with the burden of his cross, his crucifixion and death on the cross, the witness of the soldiers and the gift of his Mother to us. The final brutal death accepted with gentle love that expresses so eloquently Christ’s desire to bring all of us to life.
The details are hard to hear, but the overwhelming message of God’s love for us shines through clearly. How grateful we are to be so completely loved by our saving Lord.
Fr. Mike Higgins, C.P. is the director of lay formation for Holy Cross Province and lives in Chicago, IL.