Tuesday, April 07, 2009


I was reading from Henri Nouwen's book, Show me the Way, this morning. He says that from the moment Jesus is handed over in the garden until his death, there has been a change in his life -- a turning point. No longer is Jesus' life one of action, but is instead one of being acted upon.

This moment when Jesus is handed over to those who do with him as they please is a turning point in Jesus' ministry. It is turning from action to passion. after years of teaching, preaching, healing and moving to wherever he wanted to go, Jesus is handed over to the caprices of his enemies. Things are now no longer done by him, but to him.
Nouwen says that Jesus fulfills his mission not by what he does, but by what is done to him.

I was interested in the word that Nouwen uses. He says that this is a turning point from action to passion. I've never thought of passion in that sense of the word. I've always considered passion to be enthusiasm or zeal. I never knew it had another definition -- "the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces."

Is there an overlap of those definitions? Is there enthusiasm and zeal in being passive? Can we be passionately passive?

Nouwen says that most of us will fulfill our mission through passion -- through what is done to us. We don't like it; we would rather deny it, but Nouwen says that it is true.

I think that perhaps the way in which we live during passion is a decision -- it is a way in which we act. It is a choice that we make. Jesus was acted upon during his passion, no doubt, but he made choices in how he would respond. We also make those active choices. Perhaps, in some ways, it is in that part of passion that we fulfill our mission.

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