The word ‘passion’ is used to express very strong emotion, enthusiasm, and intense love. It also means to endure, undergo, experience, with particular reference to suffering. And so we speak of the passion of Jesus Christ, by which we mean his suffering. The different uses of this word ‘passion’ are linked. When we have intense love, it is an experience that takes hold of us, that we don’t control. And some ways it involves suffering.
And for Christians love and suffering are particularly linked. Jesus Christ suffers in his life and in his death because of his great love for us. God’s love for us leads to his willingness to suffer with us and for us in Jesus Christ. God’s compassion leads to the passion of Jesus Christ.
The last two weeks of Lent, the fifth and sixth Sundays of Lent, are called Passiontide. During that time, starting this year on 29th March, Lent changes gear and we particularly remember the events of Good Friday.
Why is it that the passion of Jesus Christ is so important in the Christian faith? Why is the cross so central? Because in the cross we see a meeting point between the unconquerable love of God and the sin and wickedness of humanity. At the cross we see hatred and evil torturing to death a man of goodness and love. And we see, in that man, God’s love continuing to shine through despite all the evil that is done to him. At the cross, God’s love conquers. That is why we call this particular Friday ‘Good’.