Friday, March 19, 2004 10:26 AM CST
PassionBy: Gary DeVaul
Passion is the kindling force behind an idea, person, place, or thing. Lovers find passion in the sexual synergism of a relationship. Painters are fired with passion at the sight of a face or the drama inherent in a sunrise. The architect’s passion gives birth to a form-like feeling that begs first for paper and then bursts on into brick and mortar, or titanium, and we have Bilbo or the Disney Center. Musicians find their passion is torched in the organization of fragmented sound into a meaningful whole, a whole that is mathematically succinct yet moves the listener to a place of transcendence where logic is no longer necessary. Passion comes in all shapes and sizes. It comes to all kinds of people, for a hundred reasons and a thousand different manifestations that reflect the truth of an individual. Passion is the kindling of a life on the cross, because the only perquisite to passion is sacrifice. And the only true sacrifice is the sacrifice of Self.
Of course, passion is the “name of the game” today. There’s lots of money being made on the Passion of Christ these days. That’s not necessarily bad, but nevertheless, it might behoove us to remember that passion always has to do with someone, or something else, beside ourselves. A passion for "self", is self-absorption, the manifestation of an unhealthy ego. I’m glad to be writing today. I’m glad to get out of myself for a while and think of your hopes and dreams. You see, I have been a bit under the weather lately, and when you’re ill, it’s difficult to think of anything or anyone save yourself and your own pain. And that never makes me very comfortable. After all, I know what a jerk I really am, and spending time fussing about me is about as helpful as spitting in to the wind. Our passion must be for someone, or something else, besides ourselves.
Jesus’ Passion had nothing to do with Himself as a person; it had everything to do with us, His brothers and sisters. Jesus was no friend of death and dying. He was its enemy. Jesus was, and is, the remedy for death. Nothing illustrates this better than His reaction to the death of his friend Lazarus. When Jesus heard of Lazarus’ illness and came to Bethany to visit, He found that his friend had died. He passed thorough the mourners, those bringing food to the family. He passed through the relatives and friends that gathered to mourn, and one has the definite feeling the Jesus was not happy as he approached the grave with Martha.
Most of you know that the shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, “Jesus wept”. But what you may not know is that the Aramaic word used for “wept” was a strange choice in that it was the word used to describe an angry warhorse snorting, tears running down its face, rearing up for battle. This is not the portrait of some weepy creature. This is a portrait of an angry, livid man about to do battle. The shortest verse in the Bible gives us huge insights into the personality of Jesus. He was capable of anger and rage. He was also capable of great love. For it was His love of life and His love for His friend Lazarus that Jesus does battle with death. For it was with a great shout that Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb. There was no mistaking what Jesus wanted. He wanted Lazarus back, and the voice that had called the earth into being shook the foundations of the tomb. You can almost see the sand and dust falling from the ceiling as the grave trembled at the sound of Creation voice. And Lazarus arose! He came out into the sunlight, they set him free of his grave cloths, and he was alive!
This, too, was Jesus’ Passion, for it was a premonition of what would shortly take place in His own life. His Passion would soon be ours and we, too, would be free of death. But as for now, it was all about Lazarus, all about the other guy.
That’s where passion begins. It starts with an idea that relates to people. It’s primarily about the other person, not about us. The problem is that if we are distracted by ourselves, we cannot hear Him call. Remember when you were a kid in school and you were talking to a friend in class when you were supposed to be listening to the teacher? Remember when the teacher called on you and you not only didn’t know the answer to the question, but you didn’t even hear your name called? Remember how your face would get hot and red and you would shrivel up in embarrassment?
I cannot speak for you. I can only speak for myself. When he calls: “Gary” I want to hear Him call. And that won’t happen if I’m listening to myself, or shooting my mouth off will it?