As much as I love hearing the Gospel readings proclaimed in the liturgy, sometimes they are hard to hear. Usually this is because something Our Lord says cuts to the heart of my own self-righteousness and pride. The Passion narrative read today, however, is the hardest reading for me all year. And not just because of what I hear, but for what I and the rest of the congregation say:
“He deserves to die!”
“Prophesy for us, Christ: who is it that struck you?”
“Let him be crucified!”
And as I say these things, I’m wishing that this was the only time I said them…wishing I hadn’t said them with my life and sins many times over.
But, miracles of miracles, after this I am given the grace to stand and confess my faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and in the Church, the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection. I am invited to call God Father and pray as Jesus taught us. Christ, the betrayed, abused and crucified Lord, does not turn me away, but gives me his peace. He gives Himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, and dwells with one who is not worthy to receive him.
These gifts make the Passion narrative bearable in the same way Easter Sunday makes Good Friday good.