A Broken Spirit

When I entered the door, the first words from his mouth were, ” I guess this old body is finally breaking down”. Two days of doctor visits with my dad this week have confirmed that his body is indeed slowly breaking down, internally as well as externally. A combination of mental and physical challenges await him.

During the last two weeks with Ignatius, I have been focusing on the arrest of Jesus as well as his passion. I have been struggling a bit during my colloquy as I tried to place myself with Jesus during his arrest and crucifixion. At first I was focused on Peter and his cowardly acts. This past week, as I read some works by Fr Rolheiser, I began to feel the sorrow when I placed myself near Jesus on the cross.

Why do we call Jesus’ suffering just before his death his passion?

“Generally this is not properly understood. We tend to think that “passion” here refers to intense sufferings, as in “passionate suffering.” This is not wrong, but misses a key point. Passion comes from the Latin, passio, meaning passiveness, non-activity, absorbing something more than actively doing anything. The “Passion” of Jesus refers to that time in his life where his meaning for us is not defined by what he was doing but rather by what was being done to him. What is being said here?”(Fr. Rolheiser)
The public life and ministry of Jesus had two parts. His active years helping and teaching others. After the last supper this activity stopped. Jesus at this point was not the one doing, but the one who is having things done to him.
Fr. Rolheiser reminds us: “What is so remarkable about this is that our faith teaches us that we are saved more through his passion (his death and suffering) than through all of his activity of preaching and doing miracles”.
Back to that broken down old man…Is my dad now entering the beginning of his passion? For so many years he has served others, now he submits to having things done to him. As I watched him slowly maneuver from doctor to doctor, I could see how he could feel somewhat humiliated. Spending these last two days with my dad and seeing him helpless and in his Latin state of “passio”ended up being so helpful to me. Reflecting back, those two days were a gift from God. The two graces I was praying for over these last two weeks finally arrived. The grace of compassion and sorrow with Jesus. Let me leave you with these closing remarks by Fr.Rolheiser ( another gift to me this week)
“The cross teaches us that we, like Jesus, give as much to others in our passivities as in our activities. When we are no longer in charge, beaten down by whatever, humiliated, suffering, and unable even to make ourselves understood by our loved ones, we are undergoing our passion and, like Jesus in his passion, have in that the opportunity to give our love and ourselves to others in a very deep way.”

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