I’ll Stand By You
Part Four of Six
Jesus sees Jerusalem in front of him. One can hear his heart breaking in his simple, earthy words, “How many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling!” (Mt 23:37). Jesus has walked long, hot days to get here. He wants to put his arms around these people and embrace them. And yet he knows this is the city that kills prophets and stones those who are sent to it.
In Jerusalem he will speak urgently about the reign of God; and then his steps will move quickly toward the last meal he will eat with his friends—a meal he will forever connect for them to his passion. But Jesus is frustrated. He has preached and taught and warned. In the same Temple in which he healed those who were blind and lame, he threw out moneychangers. He challenged the leaders in this city to move them: Is your money serving God or Caesar? (See Mt 22:17–22.)
Throughout his parables, Jesus describes people in action; simple, rich, doubtful, confident. Through images—seeds thrown on the ground (Mk 4:26–29), a neighbor badgered while trying to sleep (Lk 11: 5–8), and wedding guests trying to get into the party (Mt 25:1–13)—these parables show people called to act—as if the kingdom of God were riding on their choices.
So as Jesus prepares to share his passion with his disciples, he prepares us to share in the experience, to be a part of his passion, to embrace our own journey.
Power of Passion
Passion is the word we use to describe Jesus’ crucifixion. The word is used in a variety of ways in Scripture. Saint Paul reminds the Romans that sinful passions can “bear fruit for death” (7:5). The Song of Songs voices a lover’s deepest desire, “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; For Love is strong as Death, longing is fierce as Sheol” (8:6). We use the word passion to describe the love we have for persons, for our work, for our deepest longings. Passion is what takes us beyond our self.
The Scriptures know the power of passion—Christ’s and our own. We are not directed away from passion or told to avoid it; we are taught to grow in it. Our passions are a way of discerning where we are called, of seeing our vocation. Through passion, we can choose our paths and how we give ourselves to others.
When we join our journey to Christ’s, we join our passion to his. Christ gives our steps direction—he is our compass. We are called to be the hands, eyes, and heart of Jesus. What does that look like?