Editor’s note: The Poor Clare Nuns of Immaculate Heart Monastery in Los Altos Hills, CA, reflect on how—throughout his Passion—Christ gives us countless beautiful examples of how we are to treat those around us and follow His example of taking up our cross daily.
In an age when accomplishment is everything, we might ask Our Lord, “What did you accomplish in your passion?” The answer is, of course, redemption, but so much more. He taught us the measure of Love, God’s love, and our love for one another. In this new “metric system,” all things are made new. During the Lenten season, Mother Abbess says after Compline (night prayer), “Dear Sisters, let us meditate continually on the mysteries of Our Lord’s passion.” Really, each Sister is a meditation on the Lord’s Passion. Every person is a living mirror of the Lord’s Passion.
This is the gift of community. This is the gift of the Mystical Body of Christ.
Is it our Lord’s agony, His submission, His willingness to suffer, His struggle with fear, His determination to do the Father’s will no matter what the cost, His silence in the face of injustice? Is it Pilate searching for the truth? Or is it Nicodemus who came to Him at night? Is it Judas convinced he is right or Judas depressed at his failure and tempted to despair? Is it Peter whose seeming over-confidence masks a real yearning to love and be loved? Is it Our Lady, the silent, supportive companion who stands beneath the Cross and whose faith remains steadfast even when her own heart is pierced by the suffering of her Son? Is it Simon who at first is an unwilling bearer of the Cross? Or is it the Scribes and Pharisees who know not what they do? Is it the soldiers who are merely carrying out their duty but then, like the centurion, discover the Son of God?
Meditation leads to imitation of Jesus, who was always thinking of others during His Passion—and we are some of those “others”! Jesus knew the truth would make us free. To Judas He gave a gentle rebuke, “Would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” To His disciples He gave mercy, “Let these men go….” To the Sanhedrin He gave a wake up call, “If I have said something wrong produce the evidence but, if not, why strike Me?” To Peter, a look of undeniable love. To Pilate, the meaning of truth as Jesus stood before him mocked, condemned, tortured, and majestic. To the soldiers, a docility in pain, a silent acceptance to brutality which they would long remember. To Simon of Cyrene, a love that accepts even begrudging help and so transforms the helper. To the women of Jerusalem, compassion—“Do not weep for Me…” The gate is narrow and the road is difficult but you will remember that the Lord has gone before us to prepare the way, to become the Way.
As Franciscans, we have nothing of our own. Jesus shows us what we must give from the deep pockets of our hearts: patience, compassion, understanding and the willingness, even the eagerness, to lay down our lives for others. We are called to give a daily witness to the choice we have made to take up our Cross and follow Jesus. The fruit of that choice is an indescribable joy…a joy this world cannot give, a joy which we are obliged to give away.
And when we have done so, what have we accomplished?
Everything we could possibly hope for and exactly what Jesus has longed to accomplish.
Reflection Question: Are you in need of Christ’s compassion, gaze of love, or His wake up call? Is there someone around you in need of His mercy or patience?