The passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ clearly fits into the third song of the suffering servant of Yahweh in the prophecy of Isaiah (see Isaiah 50: 4ff). Jesus’ mission is that of giving comfort to those who are weary using the gift of speech that he received through his obedience to the word of God. His suffering is for us, who are the poor of his people, who like split reeds, are about to break, and smoking-wicks about to be snuffed. He gives us back hope. His heart and ears are attentive to anything that the Lord tells him. Led to great responsibilities by listening to the word of God, he must bear sufferings and humiliations because of the message that he must announce. He must expose the injustice of those who exploit the others, denounce every form of corruption, political, religious or moral. He is scourged, tortured, insulted and spat upon, all for our sake.
The whole mission of Jesus is that of unconditional love, just as he tells us: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15: 13).” In this holy week, the holy church calls on her children to walk with Jesus all the way, to enter in the mystery of this wonderful love of the savior. Today we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in which Jesus is welcomed as the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee, as they cried out: “God save the Son of David! Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord! God save him from on high! (Matthew 21:9)” This warm welcome will not last long. One of his own disciples, Judas Iscariot will go out to betray him, taking from the chief priests thirty pieces of silver. Knowing that the end was approaching, Jesus will celebrate the Passover supper with his disciples in which he will institute the Eucharist bequeathing them his life, death and resurrection as a perpetual memorial. Offering himself to us, he teaches us how to continue in his footsteps relying on his merits and not on our own merits and power. That is why he took Peter, James and John into the garden of Gethsemane to pray. Here, he teaches us to prefer and rely on the Will of God and not on our own wills and desires. At the same time, to exercise the virtue of fortitude in being courageous and non-violent in the face of opposition and dangers.
Jesus accomplishes his Messianic mission not through the display of earthly form of power, but through the way of suffering and death so that God might prove his love for us by raising us up with, through and in his Son, Jesus Christ. He fulfills his mission like a sheep led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer which did not open its mouth (see Acts 8:32) who through death brought about the liberation of his people from their enslavement. Jesus gives us great example of patience and of faithful endurance in sufferings relying on the grace that he alone can give and on the will and power of God to save. The passion of Christ displays to us the power of sacrifice and calls on each us to the imitation of Christ. As by his stripes we are healed, through the sacrifice we make and what we endure, we are supposed to set free our loved ones and build up the church of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to authentic discipleship, just as he tells us: “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24).” Following of Jesus does not mean making wooden beam and carrying it around. It means, imitating the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, in his two-fold love for the Father and for humanity; his reliance on the Will of the Father; his fortitude and courage in the face of suffering; and many others. That is why St. Paul today tells us to have the same attitude of Christ in his nature, mission and humility. Here, St. Paul interprets Christ’s death and resurrection in terms of humiliation and exaltation, of being enslaved and being master (Lord). These reflect the behavior or attitude of Jesus, the Messiah and servant of God which the disciple must conform to. The disciple must live in imitation of and standard of Christ, the gift of God to the world. By so doing, the disciple will experience the marvelous power of the cross where the passion of the Lord is made glorious, revealing the supremacy of Christ crucified. Here the disciple drawn to the Lord lifted high, will experience the wisdom and power of God in the order of grace.