Saturday, April 15, 2006

Times of Passion

The word "passion" has been rolling around in my head for awhile now and I've had several conversations about it with my friends. Is passion a good or bad thing? Is passion permanent or fleeting? Do we have to have passion and finally can we trust passion?

My immediate thought when it comes to this topic has to do with the steamy rip-off-the-clothes sort of passion. "That's hot," as Paris Hilton would say. It's exciting sexual desire and there is even a soap opera named after it.

Passion also can mean being enthusiastic. A friend departing Korea recently wrote something to me in a farewell letter that really was really meaningful. He wrote "You inspire me to be passionate at whatever I do." My brother has often made heart-felt, empassioned arguments about issues facing our nation today. Ethusiastic translates into interest as well. For example, my cousin has a passion for both creating and nurturing beauty, whereas I have no passion whatsoever in mathematics.

However passion isn't always so positive. Passion can lead to an affair and the break up of a marriage. Crimes of passion, albeit spur of the moment, still are murder no matter how much one tries to justify it. Passion can often turn into a mania, "an irrational but irresistable motive for action." Examples of this sort of passion are endless (Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, Jim Jones, KKK lynchings to name a few).

Perhaps the most interesting incarnation of this word for me is the fact that passion originally meant suffering. We hear this especially often this time of year when we commemorate the suffering of Christ in passion plays (like the one I saw in Eureka Springs, Arkansas), in music (Bach's St. Matthew's Passion) and more recently a blockbuster movie. Christ's passion was not something he was enthusiatic about nor went into impulsively. Nor did it have anything to do with sexual desire or an irrational obsession. At the heart of Christ's suffering was love. Love He had not only for his dear friends and family but also for complete strangers, hardened criminals and even those who wished him ill. I suppose this love Christ shows us is really a kind of passion as well- compassion if you will, an empathy for the suffering of others.

And so at the end of it all, I have realize all passion begins with God. In the famous Jonn 3:16 it empathically states "For God so loved the world...." God loves us passionately enough to give us not only life but life everlasting and eternal. Consequently perhaps we should use this gift of life in the same way. I believe that the message of the Gospel is to be passionate in all that we do: loving ourselves and the world around us, embracing the good and bad that life have to offer in thankfulness to God, and finally using our gifts and talents to make this world a better place.
Happy Easter everyone!

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