This morning, my very generous husband gave me two opportunities for alone time. First, I went running. It was awesome, despite my slowness. Then, I attended Palm Sunday Mass all alone. I even got to shower in between. My five minute late arrival was extra embarrassing sans coloring books and bags of Cherrios. In my defense, three people pooped on my way out the door, and my husband had used all of his generosity on me.
After I managed to stop giggling over the several sibling palm-sword fights waging in the pews, and controlled my eyes from admiring the outfit of the little girl who wore a sequin headband, pearls, a black velvet dress paired with knee-high pink tube socks and neon-green crocs, I realized that when I attend Mass solo, I have no excuse but to pay attention. It was going to take some effort, though, because today’s Gospel is like 17 pages. As the Passion was read aloud, the congregation, playing the part of the “Chorus” said, “Crucify him, crucify him.” Distraction crept in the form of the memory of speaking the very same words as a six year old little girl. I was standing next to my dad. I had probably been separated from my siblings for sticking palms in their ears or something. Since I had recently learned how to read, I was eagerly ready to participate louder and more enthusiastically than everyone else. I noticed something, though. My dad didn’t say the words. I didn’t get it. Why didn’t he want everyone to know how well he could read? I asked him later. “Daddy, how come you didn’t say that part? We were supposed to.” “I don’t like to say those words, it makes me feel bad to say that to Jesus” he replied.
His response made quite the impression. So much so, that it wouldn’t escape my mind, 21 years later, when I had the rare opportunity to think in silence.
At Communion, the reason became more clear. The song, “Where you There,” was being sung. Around the third verse I was able to move my focus from the eighty-year-old-vibrato singing, and I thought about Jesus and those hard to say words.
He’s right, it stings.
Then, I began to think of all the times I have said those words without speaking them. That stung worse.
Somehow, its difficult to say, “Crucify, Him,” directly, when its clear that Jesus is listening. It feels crude and harsh, even in a whisper. I don’t want him to hear me, and neither did my dad. Yet, so many of my actions communicate the very same message with a big fat scream. And, so often, I don’t even notice.
I started listening to the song again. Though off pitch and in key all its own, that old lady choir served quite the purpose.
Was I there? When they crucified him? Where was I? Where will I be this week? Will I walk with him, remain with him, bear the blood and face myself in his eyes? Or will I run, hide, whisper in hopes of remaining unnoticed, unable to even face my part in it all?
“Crucify, Him.” Its heavy. Just like His cross. I hope I’m able to help him carry it.
Happy Holy Week. Resurrection is right around the very sharp corner.