Part deux of the lovely Leftovers series! First posted on Blessed is the Kingdom on April 17, 2009.
I know this is a week after the fact, but today I was thinking about the reading of the Passion during the Good Friday service. Being a member of the crowd means you have to read certain tiny parts. What I had forgotten from years past was that the crowd had to read, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" I remember how I felt the first time I said those words out loud, and it was not a good feeling. I felt terrible inside.
I kept wondering, why does this bother me so much? And then it hit me like a hammer. Even though we were not around for the actual Passion, we still take part in it every day. Every time we choose sin, we say the words, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Sometimes we don't even realize that we say them.
Now, when I feel temptation coming on or I know that sin is going to rear its ugly head, I remember what will happen. The words "Crucify him!" are going to echo through my thoughts. And I don't want to hear them. Hearing them is painful. It's like I'm standing there at the foot of the cross, throwing things at Jesus, or simply that I am condemning Him.
Fast forward to the Veneration of the Cross. I had been to the Good Friday service before, but I had never altar served during the service. As a server, I had to wipe the spot where the person venerated, which may have been a kiss or a simple touch of the hand. Because of where I stood, I could see everyone. Every person practically did the same thing, which was kiss the feet of Jesus. It wasn't until this one woman came forward that I really felt the power and passion of the emotions in the room. As she leaned forward I saw her say a little prayer, and then I saw the tears in her eyes. I couldn't believe myself, but I had to choke back my own tears. That woman's faith opened up my eyes to what was happening. It was powerful. After saying "Crucify him!", we were honoring His sacrifice. The gift of the cross. Through the veneration of the cross, we both remember and thank Jesus for what He did for us sinners.
Throughout the veneration, the congregation sang "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kindgom." I thought it was a very fitting song for the whole evening. The criminal who said those beautiful words while on a cross next to Jesus pretty much sums up how I feel. Especially how I felt after the Good Friday service. Even though I am a sinner, Jesus won't forget me. There will be a place in God's kingdom for me, for us all...if we but just ask and pray.
Remembering the words "Crucify him! Crucify him!" and the woman's tears serve as my reminders of what I do when I sin, and also remind me of the gift that was given to us all.