Passion Play in Pinellas Park
By Deacon Keith A Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
On Passion or "Palm" Sunday, 2005, like millions throughout the, world I was transfixed on the events concerning Terri Schiavo, who is currently residing in Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida and her beautiful family. I have joined my prayer with the countless throngs who see the truth behind this real life drama of life and death, authentic and inauthentic freedom, true and feigned compassion and treachery disguised as concern.
The timing is no coincidence.
I am a Catholic Christian. Although I have been a Catholic since I was baptized as a child, I reaffirmed that choice at a very significant time in my teenage years when I had wandered far from its claims. I have done so many times since then with an increasing gratitude to my parents for having taken the first step of presenting me to the waters of Baptism. My faith has given me the framework within which to live my life to the fullest and to make decisions concerning those things that matter most. That is because my faith is more than proscriptions, it is about a Person, named Jesus Christ, whom we Christians know was, fully God and, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote "a man like us in all things but sin." One who therefore understands what we human beings are really made of.
On this the Holiest of Weeks in the Christian Calendar we recall His journey from triumph to utter rejection, through scourging, humiliation, Sacrificial Death and Resurrection. In and through that journey we find the fullness of Gods' loving plan revealed and the path to all human purpose and fulfillment stretched out before the entire human race. Without that suffering, death and Resurrection we would still be steeped in darkness, unable to make the choices of authentic freedom and evaluate the truth in our daily lives. Yet it is always a painful commemoration, to recount the way that this innocent Man was treated by those whom He came to save.
It is a rich part of the treasury of classical Christian spirituality that this Love Incarnate, who suffered for every one of us, still bears our pain. The Timeless One who entered into time so that we might live in eternity, still suffers with those whom He loves. Every time that anyone of His followers - indeed any human person, for we were all created through Him, for Him and fashioned to find our full home only within Him - is wounded and rejected, made the brunt of a lack of true compassion, He somehow suffers his brutal agony once again.
Thus, this week, in Pinellas Park Florida, the crowd has gathered and the Passion Play unfolds.
The saga that is ensuing in that little town has captured the whole world. It brought the entire Government of the most powerful Nation on the earth back from a vacation, rustled from their leisure on Passion Sunday, to decide which way they would vote, for life or for death. Oh, I know there are many who will reject this stark analysis of the events surrounding the events in Pinellas Park, but it is, none the less, true. As it was in the day that the Lord walked the Way of His Passion, some who insisted on taking His life did so with the most "noble" of purposes, or at least they thought.
We hear their echoes in the long winded speeches on the floor of the House about "Separation of Powers", "Constitutional Crisis", and a host of other political platitudes. Please, do not get me wrong, I understand all the claims. I am a Constitutional Lawyer and I have been one for twenty five years. The irony is that their cries ring so hollow. The document they purport to defend has been used to bring us to this dark hour. It has been dissected beyond recognition by the proponents of a counterfeit notion of liberty as license and freedom as the right to do what is wrong. Unmoored from its essential connection to absolute truth, it has become a shadow of its former self, being used to defend such horrors as the intentional killing of children in the womb as a "right."
Some of the very proponents of that approach which actually propelled our current "Culture of Death" are now seeking a political and feigned moral high ground making the very arguments they once rejected. In it all, they fail to hear the simple cry for food and water coming through a brain damaged, disabled woman in a hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida. In so doing, they fail to hear someone else. "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'" (Matthew 25)
It is also no accident that on the very same Passion Sunday that Terri's hunger stopped the world, Pope John Paul II missed the first Passion Sunday Liturgy in his twenty six years in the Chair of Peter. He managed to make a brief appearance in his window overlooking St Peters to wave a Palm Branch and pray for peace. How profound. Again, the face of the suffering of Christ, writ large before a world that has a choice to make, once again, as we walk this week toward Jerusalem. How will we view strength and beauty? What do we really value? Which will we choose, life or death?
Hopefully, the facts of the Terri Schiavo case will soon come to light as a Federal Court hears the full truth from two parents and a family who have bravely fought for their daughters' life and tried to tell this truth, against extraordinary odds. Hopefully, this will help to clear away the fog of confusion and convince any misguided who have either been deceived by, or hidden behind, the claims of "compassion" or "constitutional concern". For others, it will unmask their true intent.
A young disabled woman has been denied food and water, along with her basic human rights and dignity. She is simply unable to communicate the way that some believe she should and is being treated as "chattel", the property of an estranged husband who seems, knowingly or unknowingly, to be bent on her demise. The very legal system designed to protect such a person from power run amuck has become the vehicle being used to deny those rights. Hopefully, the Nation, and the world, will soon see compassion trump and witness a happy conclusion to the Passion Play in Pinellas Park.
After all, that is what this week is all about. There is an empty tomb on the other side of Golgothas Hill.
Deacon Keith Fournier is a Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia
Third Millennium, LLC
http://www.catholic.org VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Deacon, 757 546-9580
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