The Passion of the Lord during Eastertide
May 2, 2012
As mentioned recently, there is a certain fittingness in remembering the Passion during the Easter season as it is only through Good Friday that you can come to Easter Sunday. With this in mind, the Dominican Order celebrates The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ on May 4 with an optional votive Mass and Office. Christ showed us the way to glory, but that path entailed suffering along the way. Bl. Henry Suso wrote:
O eternal Wisdom, splendor of glory and image of the substance of the Father, you created all things from nothing. In order to lead man to the joys of paradise, you came down into this vale of misery and through your sweet way of life you showed to him the way of returning to you.
This way to eternal life that Christ has showed us, then, can become our own. This begins with our baptism in which we die with Christ. And, it continues throughout the whole of our lives until our own physical death, after which we will hopefully be born into eternal life. St. Thomas explains:
Christ’s satisfaction works its effect in us inasmuch as we are incorporated with Him, as the members with their head…Now the members must be conformed to their head. Consequently, as Christ first had grace in His soul with bodily passibility, and through the Passion attained to the glory of immortality, so we likewise, who are His members, are freed by His Passion from all debt of punishment, yet so that we first receive in our souls “the spirit of adoption of sons,” whereby our names are written down for the inheritance of immortal glory, while we yet have a passible and mortal body: but afterwards, “being made conformable” to the sufferings and death of Christ, we are brought into immortal glory, according to the saying of the Apostle (Romans 8:17): “And if sons, heirs also: heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ; yet so if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him.” (Summa Theologica III, 49, 3, ad 3)
In other words, by being joined to Christ through baptism, we not only die with Him, but we also rise with Him and share in His sonship by being adopted as sons by the Father. What a blessing indeed! And thus, it is fitting during this season of Easter, in which we are reminded constantly of the grace of new life in Christ, that we turn in thanksgiving to commemorate the death of the Lord because it is through that death that we have been given new life and have been reconciled to the Father so that we also can be His heirs of eternal life. Almighty ever-living God, who as an example of humility for the human race to follow caused our Savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross, graciously grant that, as we celebrate a commemoration of his Passion, we may heed his lesson of patient suffering and so merit a share in his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.