Sometimes it is easy to forget that God loves and forgives us because God is love, and that is what love does

Father William Grimm MM, Tokyo
April 15, 2019

On Passion Sunday and Good Friday many, perhaps most, churches have a dramatic presentation of the Gospel depictions of the Passion of Jesus. The congregation is forced to identify with the enemies of Jesus 2,000 years ago by crying out, “Crucify him!”

When I have been the celebrant at those Masses, I have felt relieved that my role exempts me from that call, since the priest gets to play Jesus.

In fact, the community with which I now celebrate does not do that semi-dramatized reading of the Gospels because the page-turning and reading ahead by the congregation to make sure they get their cues right can distract them from actually attending to the proclamation of the Word.

I think this is a good idea. And yet I recognize that something is lost in the congregation not having to shout, “Crucify him!” Even when our particular role in the drama exempts us individually from the shout, we know it is spoken on behalf of all of us, of each of us. And we don’t like it.

Some of that distaste comes from embarrassment at the indignity of shouting in church. Some comes from a reluctance to call for the death of him whom we love. Some comes from a desire to not be one with the cruel crowd. Some of us may even be embarrassed by the fact that they sort of enjoy the exercise.