Passion Sunday refers to Christ’s passion, but passion implies extreme emotion. We know how extreme emotions affect human beings. They can make people do nutty things. That’s evident from the way the people around Jesus behaved throughout today’s readings. We begin with his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, with all his disciples singing his praises. We read about children bringing him palm branches. You would think he was God or something. Everyone was passionately in love with Jesus.
Then we read of the circumstances surrounding his trial and crucifixion. Suddenly everyone hated Jesus with a passion, calling for his death. Even Peter denied him. Apparently Peter passionately wanted to avoid a similar fate. Then when the cock crowed after his third denial of Jesus, Peter passionately wept about his betrayal.
But Paul’s letter to the Philippians puts it all in perspective. Jesus was emotionally and intellectually consistent throughout all of this. He knew what he had to do and he did it. He told the truth. He knew who he was and where that placed him in relation to all these passionate people surrounding him, but he lowered himself to death so they could be saved by the truths he told them. It took a long time for those truths to pass through those passions and sink into our thick skulls, but with the passage of the centuries Christ bought for us with his blood, we’ve had the luxury of understanding the scope of who Jesus was, what Jesus said and what he did for us.
Ultimately he gave us what we needed to channel our passions into living God’s three greatest gifts: faith, hope and love. We are born into faith in his truth, we are raised with the hope that his truth will bring us ever closer to God, and because God is love, we become part of His self-fulfilling prophesy. With enough of our passion spent on faith and hope, we will see God.