Now, we stand for the Gospel. The longest Sunday Gospel is that for Palm Sunday, and it calls for participation of the congregation. Each fellow in the pew is supposed to join in as the Gospel calls for the crowd to speak. It is the Passion of Christ.
A few years ago, a small boy, two rows of pews before me, picked up the chant, with mindless enthusiasm, but after the co-ordinated unison, and yelled, “Crucify Him!” The mindless enthusiasm of the child, embarrassed his mother, because of the awkwardness and untimeliness. It was humorous on several levels: the unexpectedness, the joy of the outburst in the small voice, the ignorance of the new word he joyfully mouthed.
I have tried to make stations every week during lent. The way of the cross is Palm Sunday’s Gospel. Good Friday there is no mass, but the Passion according to John is read. Before the joy of Resurrection Sunday, the events of that one Friday are to have been deeply felt and understood.
The mindless enthusiasm of that child was innocent. Many, many people have that same mindless enthusiasm as a response for many other situations.
The United States has a huge jailed population, the largest in the world in percentage and absolute numbers. More than half of the world’s military spending is that of the US. The world’s largest military-industrial complex--the US. More than half of the world’s countries have US military bases. Each one of these items yell with a guilty, mindless enthusiasm, “Crucify Him!”
If your impending birth is inconvenient, “Crucify Him!” Cross the border, “Crucify Him!” Drink a glass of wine, or drink two beers before driving, “Crucify Him!” Grow a marijuana plant, “Crucify Him!” Vote the wrong way, “Crucify Him!” Disagree with any of political or social opinions, “Crucify Him!” Support a rival sport’s team, “Crucify Him!” Dropping two atomic bombs was, “Crucify Him!” Invading Iraq was, “Crucify Him!” The mouthfoamers on lunatic television and radio yell, “Crucify Him!” several times a day. It has become automatic, almost an autonomous reflex.
Sure, similar responses happen the world round. Is there another country claiming to be a christian one more or louder than this one?
Part of the old Good Friday services was the Reproaches from the Cross. How many of the crucifiers listen to the reproaches?