"Crown of Thorns" cactus in my meditation garden
I sat out in my meditation garden this morning and found myself especially focused on one of my favorite desert cacti, popularly called "the crown of thorns." It's a noble plan t- very bold, with such beautiful red flowers blooming from the rough spikes of the cactus. The plant is "passionate."
In the Christian calendar, Holy Week begins tomorrow. It is a week to celebrate the "Passion of the Christ" - a week when Christians throughout the world recall the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus.
But as I reflect out here in the meditation garden of my desert retreat house, I think that the upcoming Holy Week is reduced to something far too small, and perhaps even petty, if it is simply a time to remember what happened to Jesus many years ago.
When I look at the life of Jesus of Nazareth, I see someone who embodied what it meant to live passionately and act boldly. He was a voice for the voiceless. He was a source of radical hospitality. He pushed no one aside, reaching out to those on the margins of life so that everyone would be welcomed into the circle of belonging. He was passionate in his effort to embrace the sick, the suffering, the sinner and the outcast. He gave his entire life to promote the dignity of every human being.
And of course, that's what got him killed. His compassion for the world was a direct affront to temple and empire. He stood against the powers of the "status quo" - powers of violence, oppression and human degradation which stood in judgement against the lowly and those on the margins of life. His passion led to a crown of thorns and a cross.
But, the Christian Holy Week is far more than an annual remembrance of Jesus' long-ago suffering and death. It is more than a time to remember who he was and what he did and taught. Holy Week calls all Christians to model our lives after Jesus by living boldly and embracing our own world with deep compassion and radical hospitality.
In fact, Holy Week can be far more than a "Christian" celebration. Holy Week can also be a time for all people of goodwill everywhere, regardless of their faith or belief, to become more passionate, boldly living to promote the dignity of every human being.
It's time to get passionate!