Reflections: The “Hyper-Reality ” of the Passion
I have always been fascinated by the tendency of the world to mirror itself. Rivers flow across and through landscapes, branching, separating, and coming together similar to the veins that carry our blood. The unfathomably gigantic galaxies that swirl across the even more unfathomable universe spin and fall into themselves like the smallest whirlpools. As a droplet of water touches and consumes other droplets, it grows, just as we attain strength and nourishment from food.
Philosophers have observed this “peculiarity” for centuries, concluding that since there is intelligibility and pattern inherent in all things, logic must be the foundational principle gluing our reality together. You may have heard this principle referred to as the “Logos.” It (or should I say, He) also goes by another name with which you are probably more familiar: Jesus Christ.
When we celebrated Christmas not too long ago, we heard the story of how this Logos, this divine intelligence, became present and knowable to us in the most intimate way possible: by taking on our nature and walking the ground He created. And now, the Church flows toward the season of Lent and its culmination in the crux of our faith, the heart-wrenching story of how we (in the symptomatic arrogance of Adam’s fall), raged against, tortured, then killed Him. Should it then surprise us that, while Christ the Logos was on Earth, His saving death on the cross would, like the rivers and veins, galaxies and whirlpools, constitute the ultimate reflection of our existence in this broken world?
We kneel and sweat blood at Gethsemane each time we learn of hardships to come. We beg God to let the cup pass from us, to let it happen to Someone Else, the poor long-suffering beggar who already has enough heaped upon him that it’s a wonder he hasn’t collapsed yet.
We are judged and sentenced to cruel and unusual punishment in the eyes and mouths of others. We hear (sometimes audibly), the premonitory cracking of the whip outside on our lawns when we open our eyes each morning, sometimes rolling back under our blankets with a pitiful whimper in our hearts; yet we know we must feel that lash, looking our torturer in the eyes and perhaps seeing a little more than we’d like of ourselves before we do so, or succumb to a far worse fate.
Then, a turning point. Someone whose name we may never know, though they wear the garb of the enemy, gives us a crown of thorns. Wearing this diadem, even as it digs into the skin of our foreheads, we make one last real examination of ourselves and say, “I will carry this.”
Yet this is not the end. There’s a hill we have to climb.
Constantly tripping over ourselves, staggering under the weight of our flesh, it’s inevitable that we’ll fall. How could we not? But amongst the thousands of snarling masks lining our road, there are, to our well-founded disbelief, some who wear none. In fact, they shattered theirs as soon as they realized they wore one. They’ll carry us for a while, wipe the dust, sweat, and blood caked on our faces, but they’re already carrying themselves, which is burden enough, so we must approach the summit alone.
As the nails are driven in, we may despair, cry out to God, imploring why He has abandoned us. Yet this is when we are at our most human and, consequently, when He most loves us. A small, quiet voice within our aching heads whispers words of comfort and approval: we fought the good fight, we finished the race. And even as our eyes grow wide in bewilderment, we are forced to shut them from the light now flooding them. And besides, we won’t be needing them anymore.
Let this Lent be a time to reflect on this mystical union between ourselves and the Passion which Christ endured. When the Church instructs us to more closely unite our spirits with His, She is merely hinting at an underlying truth which has always been there.
Walker Price earned his degree in English from UT Arlington. He attended St. Andrew Catholic School and Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth.