In 2004, Mel Gibson directed a film called “The Passion of the Christ.” Perhaps you’re familiar with it. The movie focuses on Jesus’ final hours, depicting his death in gruesome detail.
The rest of his life is mostly edited out.
Some of us were raised in traditions that focus almost exclusively on Jesus’ suffering and death – referred to as his passion – while skipping what he was passionate about. The lessons he taught, the love he embodied, the relationships he established are relegated to verses recited on Sunday but relegated to the cutting floor the rest of the time.
The truth is that Jesus’ suffering and death weren’t his passion; they were the price he paid for his passion. And there’s a lesson in this story for all of us about living with the same passion.
He was passionate about healing and reconciliation, not only us to God but to one another as well. He passionately announced, embodied and created a sacred space where everyone is welcomed and treated as the beloved child of God that they are.
This alternate kingdom was the antithesis of Caesar’s kingdom, then and now.
The price for living passionately
He preached about God’s deep passion for the needy, the struggling, the oppressed – woe to the rich, blessed are the poor, the least are the greatest, help anyone who is bleeding by the side of the road. He made whole again anyone who came to him for healing.
And justice – he was deeply passionate about justice.
Gospel stories describe him staging a provocative Palm Sunday procession that confronts Caesar’s values of power, wealth, dominance, violence, and militarism.
He was passionately prophetic by overturning the tables of those who misuse religion – then and now – to amass power, preserve the status quo, and ignore the needs of those they are supposed to serve.
This was his passion. He lived it. He paid a price for it. And he invites us – no matter what faith or religious background — to do the same and live in a passionate way that challenges the status quo and heals the world. He challenges us to put our passionate lives on the line for those who are being trampled by the many opportunistic political and religious leaders of our world.
Each of us can, in our own unique way, bring love, healing, reconciliation, restoration and resurrection to our world, our society, our relationships. We’re forced to choose between between living passionately or playing it safe and never truly living at all, which is an even greater price to pay.
Jesus knew there would be a cost for his passion– there always is. He lived it anyway. May we, too, live passionate lives sustained by transformative love and daily resurrection.