Crucify Him!

“Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble”, these well-known words come from the song “Were You There”. This past Sunday was Passion/Palm Sunday and we sang this song in church. We also had the reading of the passion story from Lk 19:28-40. I know each Christian denomination celebrates Sunday services differently but in the Catholic Church every year on this Sunday we read the entire passion narrative. Unlike other Sundays, the passion is usually read by multiple readers and some parts are read by everyone in the church. There is usually a narrator, a second reader, a priest or deacon who reads Jesus’ words, and the parishioners read the part of the crowd and this means each year having to say the words Crucify Him……….. Crucify Him, and saying these words each year causes me personally to tremble. Saying those words out loud as if I were a participant in the crowd at the time of Jesus’s crucifixion always makes me uneasy.

This week on Thursday we celebrate Jesus’ gift of His body and blood in the form of our Eucharistic meal, on Friday Jesus gives us His all, in the gift of His passion and death, and on Sunday Jesus gives us the gift of eternal life, His resurrection from the dead.

But allow me to go back to those troublesome words that cause me to tremble:

“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

The Song “Were You There” asks us: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Even though we were not personally there, we must acknowledge the fact that our sins were in deed there and it was my sins and your sins that nailed Him to that cross. It was our sins that screamed out: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”, and just saying those words each year makes me very uncomfortable. Do they bother you too?

And how did our Lord and Savior respond?

“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

In John 15:13-17we read Jesus’ own words: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

Jesus demonstrated His love for us on the cross. Jesus in fact is love, and He commanded us to love one another. To love one another means that we must allow the Christ that resides in each of us to be present to those that we encounter each day. That is how we should love each other.

During the homily this past Sunday our priest pointed out an idea that I had not thought about before and it is worth repeating here so that we can all ponder it. He pointed out that on his entrance into Jerusalem, Jesus borrowed the donkey. To celebrate the Passover Jesus borrowed the upper room. Jesus died on a borrowed cross, and Jesus was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. Now, Jesus wants to borrow just one more thing, He wants to borrow you and me! Jesus wants to borrow us to reside in. Wow, this is a conceptwhich requires prayerful thought and contemplation. The God who created everything in existance wants to borrow us to reside in and if we lend ourselves completely to Him, He promises to be awellspring of unending joy in our lives.

To make this joy of Christ in us complete all we need to do is to give Him away. Yes, all we need to do is to share the Joy of Christ with everyone we encounter. By lending ourselves to Him, we can be His hands and feet on this earth. We can go on His behalf and reach out to those in need of His promise of salvation. He is the resurrection and the life! Are we going to share Him and are we going to share His love, and are we going to share the joy of Easter everyday of our lives with those we encounter? He gave everything! Are we prepared to keep His command to love? Yes, our sins cried out “Crucify Him” but in the greatest act of love ever, Jesus our Lord, freely laid down His life for us, to redeem our sins and then on the third day, He rose from the dead to open the gates of Heaven and assure us eternal salvation. This, my friends is the good news! If we share this news with others, together, His love working through us, can change the world!

“Were You There”

Were you there when they crucified my Lord

Were you there when they crucified my Lord

Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble

Were you there when they crucified my Lord

If you would like to listen to a Country/ Gospel Version of this songby Johnny Cash click here, or to listen to a Contemporary Christian Version by the group Selah click here.

Dear Jesus, please open our eyes this week to the real meaning of your death and resurrection. Help us all to grow closer to You during Holy Week. Help us to realize the depth of Your love for us. Help us to accept Your forgiveness of our sins, and grant us all a Joyful Easter, Amen!

Brian Pusateri
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