by Victor Hoagland, C.P.
Why devote a Web site to the Passion of Jesus?
The Passion of Jesus — his notorious suffering and painful, public death by crucifixion in Jerusalem at the beginning of the Common Era — is a story Christians tell because it is a vital to what they believe. It is a story initially told by Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead.
As we have it today, the Passion of Jesus would never have been transmitted through the centuries unless Jesus himself had not made it part of his Easter revelation. Historians of his time never mention it; Jesus was far too insignificant for their attention. And even if he were significant, a story of crucifixion was not likely to be told. Only scattered references to crucifixion are found in the writings of Jesus’ contemporaries, who were repulsed by grisly tales of that babaric act.
Nor did the disciples of Jesus, left to themselves, leave us this story. Indeed, the gospels describe his followers dismayed by what happened in Jerusalem those fateful days; they were unlikely to report a tragic failure that was also their own. Look at the account of the two disciples leaving the city on the day of Easter for Emmaus (Luke 24,13-35). They are disciples wanting to put the dreadful memory of Good Friday behind them. No, by themselves Jesus’ disciples would never have left us a story of what they saw.
It was Jesus himself, risen from the dead, who initiated the retelling of the story of his passion and death, and he changed its meaning forever.
The Easter gospels describe it. Appearing to his disciples at Jerusalem that day “Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” ( John 20,19-21 ) Walking with the Emmaus disciples that same day, Jesus said: “‘Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24,26-27) The Passion narratives as we have them in the gospels grew from this first telling by the Risen Christ.
The Passion of Jesus is an Easter story, and so it brings hope. Risen from the dead, Jesus did not hide his wounds; he showed them to his disciples. Jesus did not dismiss his sufferings and death as an embarrassing setback; he revealed the power of God in them. And instead of a story that accused them, Jesus made the hearts of his followers burn by recalling it, and brought them to rejoicing.
And so we keep his Passion in mind as an Easter story. It should not be dissected with an historian's eyes, though it is rooted in history. Rather, like the Emmaus disciples, we should look at it from the perspective of our own sorrows and questions. And as he did for them, the Risen Christ will help us reinterpret our own lives in the light of his. Immense benefits flow from this mystery: graces of rejoicing, patience and compassion.
These pages are offered to keep this great mystery in mind. It is the story of our salvation, the story of our hope. A wise and tender book, it tells us how to think about life, how to live, how to use this world, what to expect, what to hope for.
Lady Julian of Norwich said,
The Passion of Christ is comfort for us.
He comforts us readily and kindly and says:
All will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.
This Web site exists to share the comfort of God's love, as shown in the Passion of Jesus.Icon by Michael Moran, C.P.