Were you there when they crucified the Lord? (A Holy Week reflection)

April 3, 2009

- by George Vogt (with special acknowledgement)

eastsunriseEditorial (MetroCatholic) - Holy Week will be upon us next week. There will be opportunities for us to spiritually walk with Christ as He is received with shouts of “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”; as He institutes the Eucharist at the last supper and the priesthood in the washing of the feet; the opportunity to stay and pray or to fall asleep in His darkest hour. We will have the opportunity to walk with Him as He is betrayed, deserted, beaten, illegally tried, condemned, inhumanely tortured, spit upon, and ridiculed. We will have the opportunity to walk with Him as He carries the cross, falls under the weight of the cross, perhaps even crawls under the weight of the cross, already so near death that Simon is forcibly pressed into service to help Him. We will have the opportunity to witness Him take our sins upon Himself so that the chains of sin can be broken. Adam and Eve ate of the tree of life thus bringing death into the world. Now Jesus, the Lamb of God, hangs on the tree of death bringing everlasting life into the world. We will have the opportunity to be present as our Lord gives us to His mother and as He gives his mother to us. We will have the opportunity to be there as He gives up His Spirit, dies for us, and is laid in the tomb.

As we prepare for Holy Week, I would invite you to reflect on some of those who were there then. How do we, today, identify with them? How are we like them?

Are we sometimes like…

The Pharisees – Knowledgeable of religion, its practices and traditions, but unable to see that God is in our midst; so busy with what we think is important that we are deaf to what Jesus is telling us is really important.

Peter – When we allow fear to overwhelm us. When we are afraid to stand up for what is right and true. When we are afraid to proclaim or even acknowledge our Faith. When, although we have walked with Jesus, touched Him, spoken with Him, seen the wonders He has done right in front of us, run away at the most critical of times.

The crowd – When we close God out and listen to others and allow them to influence us to accuse others wrongly or to shout for blood.

Herod – Reducing Jesus to some small wonder-worker or looking for some magical sign.

Pilate – When we give in to the crowd telling us what to do, pressuring us to do something…even when we know it isn’t right. Or when we are so caught up in ourselves and our own worries that we attempt to create our own truth or deny there is such a thing as truth…even when THE TRUTH, Christ is there before us.

The soldiers – When we continue to sin, although our sins tear at, bruise, scourge, and pierce our Lord…all while He is pleading for us, “Father, forgive them.” Here, the word He uses is ABBA, a word that was really used by young children when addressing their fathers. A word that may be better translated as “Daddy”. “Daddy”, forgive them.

The scoffing criminal crucified next to Jesus – When we allow ourselves to become so angry and bitter that we are actually angry and bitter with God.

Perhaps we are like some of these people. Perhaps we are like all of these people. One thing is for sure though. We are, each and every one of us, like:

Barrabas – the notorious sinner who truly deserved to die, and in fact had already been condemned to death; but instead, Jesus, our God who humbled Himself and became one of us, took our place on the cross and died for us so that we might live.

Indeed, we will have many opportunities next week. The question is, will we make the most of those opportunities? How will we approach Holy Week and all that our Lord is offering to us in its meaning? May we be his companions all the way to the tomb, and may we rise with Him on Easter morn.

I wish to acknowledge that this reflection has been and continues to be a work in progress as is my own life.  Special thanks to Tony DalPra, Dominick Gullotta, Fr. Dennis Hayes, Fr. Timothy Heines, and others who have contributed to this reflection through their own teaching, preaching, and testimonies.

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One Response to “Were you there when they crucified the Lord? (A Holy Week reflection)”

  1. Megan Smillie on April 6th, 2009 10:17 am

    Especially poignant is Barrabas. Being full of pride and righteousness myself, I would have never thought to equate myself with him. But of course! He was the first sinner that Christ saved from death. We, being sinners as well, can easily relate.

    Beautiful meditation.

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