What’s your passion, this Passion Week? Anything worth risking your life?
I attended a conference at Esalen Institute at Big Sur this past week, which gathered filmmakers and activists to share media strategies for promoting reconciliation among the religions of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At one point the conversation focused on how to prevent war between Iran and Israel and America. People professed strong feelings about the brewing crisis.
“Are you willing to die to prevent this war?” asked one of the participants. The room fell quiet.
The man who asked the question was Abdullah Omeish, a filmmaker born in Libya but raised mostly in the US. He had gone to his homeland to document the revolution against the dictator, Gaddafi. He had left his wife and young kids in America to risk his life to record the story of the Arab Spring in his homeland, and had returned with videos of the uprising, which he showed us.
For Abdullah, this was no empty question. Nor was it for Jesus.
Jesus was passionate about creating a reign of divine love on earth, to replace the oppressive Roman empire in his occupied homeland. He was compassionate with the poor, the sick, the women treated like mere possessions, the Samaritan outcasts, the people seen as “unclean”. Passion Week is a time to remember Jesus’ intense commitment to love, peace, healing, and economic and social justice. His passion led to his death. But it transcended the cross on which the Romans killed him. His passion throbs in us now, inspiring us to spend our lives, and sometimes even to put ourselves at mortal risk, in the service of the most vulnerable among us.