What are your primary passions?

Readings: Is. 50.4-7; Ps. 22; Phil. 2.6-11; Mk. 14.1-15.47

Passion Sunday. The word "passion" comes from the Latin verb: patior, patiri, which means "to suffer, to endure." Jesus suffered and died for us. Jesus endured punishment for our sins for love of us. The same Latin root is found in the English words: patience and compassion. When we are patient with someone, when we endure their difficulties, when we suffer with them and for them, we demonstrate passion for them, or literally, compassion with them. To do what Jesus did for all humankind, and for us to practice compassion towards others requires strong, deep feelings. Passion, in English, has acquired the connation of strong, deep feelings.

Passions. What are your primary passions? Passions may be described as feelings. There is no moral evaluation of passions. Morality pertains to our actions. What matters morally is what do we with our passions. Some passions we may be proud of, and certain other passions, as the saying goes, "may make the devil himself blush," and at times confuse and confound us. What are your primary passions?

Me? I'm passionate about preaching the importance of Sunday Mass attendance, and preaching fidelity to the Church's teachings. I'm passionate about studying world history, church history, and the lives of the saints. I'm passionate about writing books, and playing golf. I have other passions too, but I am not going to tell you about them since most of them fall under the category of the seven capital sins. I trust that most of you know well from personal experience what I am talking about!

Reflect on Jesus' passions. He was passionate for doing the will of his Father in heaven: "Father, if this cup can pass from me, then let it do so; but let not my will, but your will be done." (Mt. 26.42) Reflect on the breadth and depth of Jesus' love for all humanity. Recall the same people shouting "Hosanna" on Palm Sunday, and shouting "crucify him" on Good Friday. Jesus professed and expressed love for every person so much that he suffered and died for us, in order to redeem us from our sins, and to open for us the gates of heaven. Ponder Jesus' depth of passion for us.

Passion. I'd like to speak positively about passion. If we are going to succeed at anything, we need passion. No athlete succeeds without having deep passion about his/her sport. No scholar or researcher succeeds without passion for his/her discipline. No professional person, or craftsman, or homemaker succeeds without passion for his/her responsibility. Does any marriage succeed, or does anyone persevere in priesthood or religious life without passion? Our passions can be used for good or ill. Learn to control and direct your passions in positive ways. Set goals and boundaries to the expression of passion in order to achieve good goals by good means. Thank God for your passions; you would not want to be passionless. Nor would you want to go to lunch with a passionless person; that person would be the most boring person in the whole world. Thank God for your passions.

Most of all, thank God for Jesus' passion. Reflect on the breadth and depth of Jesus' love for every person everywhere. As Christians, we proclaim that we want to live like Jesus, to walk in his footsteps, to be good and to do good in praise of God, and in service to other people. As we begin Holy Week, the last week of Lent, what does God will/want from you? What are the positive ways that God wants you to express your primary passions? Choose one passion, and pray and practice to direct it well this Holy Week.

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley