When I was a little girl, reading the Passion on Good Friday always confused and upset me. At our home parish, the congregation always read the parts of the crowd all together. I refused to chant “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “I can’t say that Mom, I just can’t,” I’d whisper. “I don’t want Barabbas, I want Jesus!” I did not want Jesus to die. This was the Son of God who I was told loved me no matter what I did and listened to all of my prayers. I loved him.
It was not until I got older that I realized that we all have crucified Jesus, even though we did not literally put nails into the palms of his hands two thousand years ago. I can say those words this afternoon. “Crucify him! Crucify him!” I have crucified him more times than I would like to admit. I crucify him when I hold a grudge against those who have hurt me, instead of forgiving. I crucify him whenever I walk by a homeless person without helping him or her. I crucify him when I put my own needs/wants ahead of others. I crucify him when I let stress get the best of me, and do not treat my loved ones with the kindness and respect they deserve. I crucify him when I do not take care of my own body.
We all crucify Jesus whenever we fail to be inclusive and loving to those around us, whenever we fail to take into account the ways in which we directly or indirectly contribute to the oppression of others.
When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me that acts of kindness make Jesus smile and acts that hurt others make Jesus cry. Today is Good Friday. As someone who does not fast for health reasons, yet is surrounded by persons who are fasting, I wondered what I should to today. Having a friend up and lots of papers to write, I wondered what activities are appropriate or not appropriate to mark this solemn holy day. I always felt uncomfortable going out (is not exactly the time to be sitting in a loud bar or singing karaoke). Yet, I think that I need to stop worrying about how I am going to cry over Jesus, and instead start worrying about how I am going to stop making Jesus cry. I am certainly not saying that prayer, fasting, and other rituals we engage in are not important, but I need to think about how I am going to stop crucifying Jesus the other 364 days of the year. So, maybe today is a day to meditate on how this Easter can really be a new beginning. Our mourning of Jesus’ death must lead to action.