Today’s Thoughts: I know many of you probably look at today as just Friday. And you are right in doing so along with most of the rest of the world but in the Passionist world today, the Friday before Ash Wednesday is the Feast of the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion. It is one of the most important and special feast days that we have in the Congregation of the Passion. It is a day when we can truly celebrate the Passion of Jesus Christ which is the lens through which we view and live our lives as Passionists.
The first reading for today takes us almost to the end of the creation story which we have been reading since Monday. In today’s episode the serpent convinces Adam and Eve to eat from the tree is the middle of the garden which God has asked them not to eat from. The serpent convinces them that God has not told them the whole truth. His hook is that if they eat from this tree they will become like gods! Adam and Eve go for it hook, line and sinker. However, they find out that they are not like gods but rather their eyes are opened to the harsh realities of life – struggle, shame, illness and evil. They come to know the shame, hurts, disappointments and sins of life in the world so much so that now they are even ashamed of themselves and they hid from God.
In the Gospel we encounter the beautiful story of Jesus healing the man who could not hear and had a speech impediment. Jesus heals the man because the people have faith in Jesus’ healing powers and bring their friend to Jesus. Jesus’ compassionate act of healing so astonished the community, even though he asks them to say nothing, they cannot stop talking about it. They proclaimed the Good News that Jesus “does all things well.”
There is such a contrast to these two stories. On the one hand Adam and Eve place their faith in a talking serpent and not in God. They have everything. There is nothing they lack; there is not struggle, disappointment, illness, shame, hurt, death or sin in their lives. They are in paradise! Yet I guess you might say they didn’t have everything. They didn’t have faith! They didn’t trust God.
In the Gospel story a community has faith in Jesus and their friend is healed. This story tells us a lot about Jesus and his journey to Calvary. Because of Adam and Eve’s lack of faith, sin, struggle, illness, shame and death entered the world. But as our faith story tells us that – “God so love the world that he gave us his only Son that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Faith is always the key. As Passionists we celebrate this day with the faith that God truly does love the world and Jesus’ journey to Calvary is the ultimate sign of that love. The choice by Adam and Eve in the garden set in motion God’s greatest act of love for us and on this Friday before Ash Wednesday that is what we remember and celebrate.
Perhaps in a way we, Passionists, are like the deaf man’s friends in our Gospel story today. Our lives are dedicated the remembering the Passion of Jesus Christ which reveals the power of God’s love for the world and through our special vow we bind ourselves to the memory of the Passion of Christ. By our words, our ministries, our living of life and by our faith we strive to bring this gift, this grace of God’s love to every person we meet. Or perhaps stick with the story we seek to bring the struggle to Jesus because he does all things well!
My prayer for you on this special Passionist feast is that as you journey through this day you will not forget that God loves you that you will always be faithful and that the Passion of Jesus Christ will always in your heart!
Have a great Friday everyone and may the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in our hearts!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...