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Fifth Sunday of Lent - Passion Sunday.

UPAVON. 2002 (8 am)

For fifteen centuries the language of the Church was Latin, so it is not surprising that the Latin language has affected our thinking. This is called Passion Sunday and the word "Passion" is related to the Latin verb "to suffer".

So it is not surprising that the Church has laid great stress, particularly in the Eucharist, on the physical sufferings of Jesus and on his Crucifixion.

Furthermore, it has been thought that unless WE have suffered, we are not worthy of our Lord, and the MORE we have suffered, the more worthy we are.

There are still those who think that anaesthetics are sinful.

Do not let me belittle the fact that our Lord and Saviour DID suffer and die - for us. We are unutterably thankful for his courage and for his compassion towards us.

But if we leave it at that we miss the POINT of his sufferings.

When we use the word PASSION at this time, we must remember that the word should be associated as well with the word PASSOVER - which was the Jewish festival which coincided with the Crucifixion. The Hebrew is PASACH - and it means DELIVERANCE.

The PASSOVER was the Jews' celebration of their deliverance from captivity - deliverance from bondage in Egypt and in Babylon - deliverance from death and the annihilation of their nation. And in it was the anticipation of a new deliverance that the Messiah should bring.

The Jews had - and still have - many rituals designed to ensure the continuance of their nation. But in the Gospel, Jesus tells them that, "if anyone keep MY saying he shall never see death".

Physical death must come to all of us, but 'whosoever believes in the Son of God shall not perish, but have everlasting life. His offering ensures our continuance.

Today on Passion Sunday we see THOUGH the physical suffering of Jesus; we look BEYOND the suffering WE may be called upon to bear; BEYOND the mortal death through which we must pass. We look to the Resurrection of Jesus, which is the guarantee - the covenant - by which we are delivered into eternal life.

Thanks be to God.

  The Estate of William John Green, 2004