Sunday, March 13, 2016

The thorns of passion

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on Passion Sunday

Thornbushes make up quite a bit of the vegetation of the wilderness. While He is walking there being tempted by the Devil, Our Lord encounters many of them growing from the ground and strangling the shoots of grass and other wild plants. He knows that these thorns will be plaited and jammed upon His head during His Passion. He also knows that He has to bear these thorns because we have such an ordeal bearing ours.

The parable of the Sower reminds us that it is the thorns that choke the life out of the seed of the word of God. These thorns are the cares of this life, the things that make us distract us from hearing the word of God in our lives and doing something with it. For us, perhaps,  the thorny wilderness is not out of the towns and cities,  but rather in the shopping centres and high streets where the word of God is drowned out by trivialities. The paradox is that we leave this faithless wilderness by leaving civilisation for a while. The suffering that we endure is the silence from our distractions. It is a silence that can become quite painful.

When we suffer, we are said to undergo a passion. A passion inflames the emotions which is why we say we are passionate about the things we enjoy. We can also be passionate for a cause, or against some injustice. Either way, passions need to be examined for, if they bear thorns, they will choke the word of God in us and we will not bear fruit.

When we allow life's distractions to crowd God out of our lives, we are essentially contributing to the Crown of Thorns that Our Lord wears upon His head during His Passion. We can be distracted from God, even by good things. This is why a good prayer life is so important to cultivate. Henri Nouwen suggests that, in times of distraction, we take a prayer we know off by heart and say it slowly to ourselves deep within.

We share in Our Lord's passion when we do not allow life to get in our way of worshipping God and hearing His voice. We share in His crown of Thorns when we deny ourselves some pleasure in order to sit down and pray. We share in the death of Christ when we cease to live for ourselves and our distractions, and live for God Himself!

Yes, this is hard. Thorns hurt, but God will carry us through if we do not allow those thorns to hinder our looking for Him. Christ's greatest healing took place when he was in the greatest pain. Let us look to that and His Resurrection rather than things of this world.

1 comment:

Fr Tom said...

A wonderful meditation, Father. From Sexagesima, with the Gospel account of the Sower and the Seed - to Tuesday of Holy Week, when St Mark tells us of the Crown of Thorns - may seem like a long time, but you have brought them together.

Blessings of the upcoming Holy Week and Easter,

Tom McHenry+