We’ve just heard the story of the passion and death of Jesus as told to us by the disciple Jesus loved, his friend John, John who stood at the cross with Mary.
It is important for us to hear this gospel as a love story, for that is what it is, for all its brutality, it is a love story. As the letter to the Romans reminds us: “you could hardly find anyone ready to die even for someone upright; though it is just possible that for a really good person someone might be willing to die. So it is proof of God’s love for us that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.”
Remember we play an important part in this love story. He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the punishment that made us whole and by his wounds we are healed.
Today we do more that look back in history. The Passion of Jesus is as real today as it was over 2000 years ago. He suffers today in us. He suffers in our fears and struggles to cope with illness or the death of someone we love. He suffers in broken families and in those who are looking for work. He suffers in young people who are trying to find their way in life. He suffers in men and women coping with the limitations of aging. He suffers in the poor, the homeless, and the dispossessed. He suffers in the refugees; he suffers in those whose lives are turned upside down by earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, floods. And we go beyond that.
Today is Earth Day. During Lent with our parish retreat and our Lenten program of Lent 4.5 we’ve reflected on our place within the totality of God’s good creation. We’ve reflected on in impact our consumerism has on the well-being of Earth and on the well being of men, women and children in developing but exploited lands. In his letter to the Colossians St. Paul teaches, “Christ is the image of the unseen God, the first born of all creation, for in him were created all things, in heaven and on earth, things visible, things invisible, all things were created through him and for him..” The 15 billion year history of the universe is Christ’s history. Our present reality of environmental crisis is Christ’s present reality, a reality of diminishment and degradation. We are part of that story as well for it is our overuse and misuse of Earth’s limited resources that is causing havoc to the life systems of the planet. Our polluted oceans, lakes and rivers, our disappearing rain forests, our toxic soils, our polluted air, our exploitation of the limited resources of Earth, these are the wounds of Christ today.
These are the wounds of Christ today as He suffers in our humanity and is diminished and devalued as the first born of all creation. And we should remember that Christ’s diminishment is our diminishment for what we do to the earth we do to ourselves.
In the fifth of the Stations of the Cross we remember Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry His cross. Every time we feed the hungry, every time we clothe the naked, every time we welcome the stranger, every time we lend a helping hand in any way our name is Simon. Every time we consider our life style, every time we cut back on our consumerism, every time we are conscious of the woundedness of creation and try to heal that woundedness by a change in our own lifestyles our name is Simon. Every time we appreciate the beauty, the splendor and the wonder of creation, our name is Simon.
As we continue to celebrate this day the whole world calls ‘good’ we pray that the Passion of Christ be always in our hearts and minds, the Passion suffered 2000 years ago, the Passion experienced in our own lives and in the lives of others, the Passion we see endured in our wounded planet. May these Passions of Christ be always in our minds and hearts and in our concerns and inspire all of us to ‘live simply that others may simply live.’