Passio Issue #9 – Lent 2022
Just to show us that He can feel along with us and suffer as we do, God takes the form of our humanness and enters into our culture without conditions.
Published Mar 22 2022
Based on a true story, the film, Of Gods and Men tells of eight French Trappist monks who live their community life of liturgy, poverty, humility, and love in a remote Algerian village in the 1990s. They tend the garden, keep bees, sell their honey in the local market, and offer basic medical care to everyone who needs it.
The Muslim villagers love them and happily invite them into their own houses. One woman describes the monks as, ‘the branch on which we stand’. When Muslim fundamentalists murder a young girl, and soon after some Croatian workers, the government insists upon protecting the monks with military might. They refuse, on principle.
Then the jihadists come and want their medicine, which the monks don’t refuse. With their lives clearly endangered by both the government and the jihadists, they must decide whether to stay or to leave, and why. It’s the decision that resides at the heart of Christian discipleship and one that is especially front and centre during the season of Lent.
Saint Paul’s words to the Christian Community at Philippi appear to capture well the pattern of the Passion of Jesus Christ:
‘He did not cling to his equality with God
but became as all people are and
He was humbler yet, even to accepting death,
death on a cross’ (Phil 2:6)
It is part and parcel of that acculturation process whereby God becomes one with us. When you are in the form of God, you don’t get pushed around, no one pulls at your beard or spits in your face. They wouldn’t dare!
Yet, just to show us that He can ‘get inside’ our passion, that He can feel along with us and suffer as we do, God takes the form of our humanness and enters into our culture without conditions. He picks his way down our streets and listens to the strange accents of our violence. He shares our scars and doesn’t lean on His rich and famous friends back home. He lives with our jarring standards and lets himself be judged by them. He even accepts death because in our culture death is a big thing that we would rather conceal or from which we prefer to turn our faces.
He poses to us, however, his own kind of question: ‘Can you still believe when the Passion begins?’ Can you stay with me all the way to the cross? Can you stand at the foot of the cross of my suffering sisters and brothers at the world’s uncountable sites of suffering? Only a realization of the depth of His love for us that carried Jesus to His cross can enable us to answer these questions in the positive.
May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Sorrows of Mary our Mother, remain in our hearts this Lent and always.
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