Without passion there’s no compassion. In the same way there has to be eros in the mixture if there is to be agape as well. If there’s no force of attraction there’s nothing to propel us into transcendence.
Passion can however break loose of this formula and become autonomous – just serving its own appetite and self-interest. It morphs into a rogue force in our psyche that causes devastation in the world around us. We bounce wildly from desire to exhaustion before we start looking for another object to desire.
Any addiction soon teaches us the misery this involves. How this happens is a complex story. But the way out of it is simple: to allow yourself to be loved.
It might seem you don’t need passion to let yourself be loved. Passion is all in loving and seeking the object of desire. But the Passion of Jesus that begins Holy Week today takes us to a more concentrated point of truth where this duality between loving and being loved, the dualistic source of all egotism, is dissolved.
With the dissolution of self-centredness comes the dispersal of karma. The Scriptures look at this collectively as well as personally. The story we are starting to re-tell again today is so inexhaustible and universal because of this.
All the priests stand at their duties every day, offering over and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking sins away. He, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then taken his place forever, at the right hand of God. (Heb 10:15))
That’s a religious and biblical way of expressing it. The point however is universal: in Jesus a cyclical repetition is snapped and karma is transcended. We do not need to seek ‘temporary relief’ medication any more. This medicine really works a cure.
We should be sceptical about this at first hearing.
The gospels however just tell a human story and leave it to us to make sense of it. This turns scepticism into faith. This happens as the story becomes us.
Then he withdrew from them, about a stone’s throw away, and knelt down and prayed. ‘Father,’ he said ‘if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine.’ Then an angel appeared to him, coming from heaven to give him strength. In his anguish he prayed even more earnestly, and his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. (Lk 22:41ff)
This is no fairy tale. For any mature person it resonates with our own experience. Aloneness, anguish, fear, physical symptoms, the unexpected angel of mercy. But at the heart of it is the love he felt holding him, which empowered him to love those he did not even, at that instant, consciously know.
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