Sunday, April 9, 2017

Easter reminder.

Today is Palm Sunday, which celebrates -- if that's the word I want -- the Passion and death of Jesus. It's one of the longest Masses of the year for Catholics, and the only one that requires audience participation in the Gospel.

Really -- and we get some of the worst dialogue. If you're not familiar with the format, the reading is divided among the narrator (usually a deacon or priest), Jesus (a priest), a speaker (a lector), and chorus (the congregation). The lector will read the words spoken by individuals like Judas, Pilate, Peter, and Caiaphas, and we all do the bloody-minded mob.

"We want Barabbas! We are schmucks!"
Anytime an idiot is speaking, it's us.

It's always interesting when the congregation is called on to do something. American Catholics generally shy at getting involved in our own services, unlike other Christians and Catholics in other countries. We're terrible about the group singing. We avoid the front pews as if the father is going to snag a volunteer for his sawing-a-congregant-in-half trick. In our parish we once had a visiting priest from the Philippines who always seemed to be wondering what he had to do to get a reaction out of these people, for Pete's sake.

But everyone seems to get into the spirit of the Palm Sunday readings, even though we feel the shame of participating in the Crucifixion. We know that we are not mouthing the words of blinkered Jerusalemites; we are speaking for all of us, who would not have fought to save the life of this blasphemer, even if we believed he was who he said he was. He'll get out of this on his own if he's that great -- there's a lot of that in the Gospel. I don't want to piss off Herod. I don't want to piss off the Sanhedrin. I really don't want to piss off the Romans. Besides, he probably is a blasphemer, lawbreaker, troublemaker. He's offended everybody, hasn't he? Hey, if he's so great how'd they manage to arrest him?

Church doctrine teaches that we're all guilty; many of us just don't know it. Palm Sunday is our reminder.
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