Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Billy Vera, The Beaters, and the Passion of Jesus

What did you think
I would say at this moment,
when I'm faced with the knowledge
that you just don't love me.
Did you think I would curse you.
Or say things to hurt you
'cause you just don't love me no more.

Perhaps it might seem a little scandalous to be posting this passionate love song (made famous by Alex and Ellen in the 80's sitcom Family Ties) during Holy Week. But think for a moment about the scandalous love of Jesus displayed in the events of His Passion, and you'll see where I'm going with this.

Twisted Mystics.... it's about finding the Voice of God hidden in the voices of the artists and songwriters of our time. Here, in the pleading tones of this particular tune, we can hear Christ. We can hear the Lover, the One Whose Passion is a fire atop His Sacred Heart, shining out to us with the Truth that He does indeed love us so. Especially when He's "faced with the knowledge that we just don't love Him."

For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
- Romans 5:6

The song, At This Moment, swells and soars on a natural level. It has the kind of power that wins us over. The power of an unconditional love... "You mean even if I reject you, abandon you, leave you.... you'll STILL love me?" This kind of human love is rare, admittedly. But we still strive for it, we're overwhelmed when we encounter it, and we know it's the Ideal even when our experiences draw a cloud across it's face.

The Passion of Jesus is swelling up again in the heart of the Gospels this week, and this love is stronger still. It's stronger than death! "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!" (Luke 12:49) We've never had a love like this before! He loved us and still loves us even when we reject Him, when we walk away from Him. That's what the Passion is all about, for it comes from the word "to suffer."

Did you think I could hate you.
Or raise my hands to you.
Now come on you know me too well.
How could I hurt you when darling
I love you and you know
I'd never hurt you oo-wo-ooo...

The only way we can fathom this unfathomable love is to step out into it, to wade into the water and let the Passion sweep us away. The saints and mystics (the real ones, not the twisted ones) have always told us that if we were the only ones on earth who fell into sin, Jesus would have done it all just for us. Do we believe this?

The words below are taken from an ancient homily given in the fourth century. Hear the love that streams forth from each image, as the Divine Artist reshapes and recreates our broken hearts. His Passion is for us; may it renew and return us to a deeper passion for Him!

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who, once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree. I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you... The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity....