We call this Sunday “Palm Sunday” for obvious reasons: we get palms at church to prove we were here. However, the full, official name of this weekend’s celebration, as we enter into Holy Week is “Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.” And it is that word – Passion – that I want to briefly reflect upon today.
As I see it, in our lives we have two types of passion. Therefore, as you go forth today I want you to take at least two strands of palm: one for each type of passion.
The first passion is the passion that we choose in our lives. These are the things we think of when we say we are “passionate” about something. Some of us have a passion for reading, or a passion for cars, or a passion for collecting things. Some of us are full of passion – sometimes so much so that we can be easily roused to argument! These are our hobbies, our pursuits, our pastimes. I, personally, have a passion for Star Wars and for the Orioles.
There is nothing wrong with this type of passion. It makes our lives interesting. It gives us something to do. It fulfills us.
The second type of passion is the passion that we do not choose. It chooses us; it finds us. This is the Passion that we have just heard proclaimed. While this is Jesus’ Passion, we share it. We share it when we suffer with a negative diagnosis, with illness, with loss, with the simple struggle of getting older. These are passions that we never asked for, but they are passions that we live with nevertheless.
It is this Passion that makes all our passions worthwhile – gives them meaning. When we can see in these passions that we do not choose a sharing in the Passion of Christ, it is then that they become powerful and salvific. By all means, celebrate your passions for life and all the many pursuits that make life fun; but also, especially this week, let’s celebrate the Passion that makes all life worthwhile.