Several years ago, we partnered with Spirit Juice Studios and produced a short film called “Palm Sunday.” In it, two brothers become restless during the reading of the Passion, and begin slapping one another with their palms. Their mother is not amused. After a brief scolding, the two settle for a moment before they agree to a bet: who can shout “crucify him” the loudest. Once arranged, the younger of the brothers gets overwhelmed by the experience and is drawn into a vision of the crucifixion.
As he stands before a dying Jesus, he angrily declares, “I didn’t do that to you. That was people from 2,000 years ago. It’s not my fault that you’re up there!”
The Lord then gives him a gift. He lets him take a close look at the sin in his life and the reasons why Jesus is truly hanging on the cross for him.
Humbled and staring at the crucifixion nails he is now holding in his hand, the young man declares, “I never realized that I did this to you. So why would you do this for me?”
The answer to his question is as simple as it is profound: God loves the world. He loves everything and everyone he created and desires that none would be lost.
Jesus saves us.
Everything must come from that place. All our Catholic practice must come from that life-changing reality. Our celebration of Mass and the Sacraments not only come from that place, but bring it to us by their practice.
And yet, how easy it is for us to take this for granted. Like the young man in the short film, we can be lulled into complacency and fail to regularly reflect on the fact that Jesus hung on the cross for our sins.
I once witnessed a Reconciliation skit that was one of the most profoundly effective I’ve ever seen. In it, some teens were standing in line at the confessional and talking about the stupidity of it. They compared sins, laughed at whose were more ridiculous and one young man finally decided with pride that he was going to make stuff up. Once in front of the priest, the young man unloaded his fake litany and the priest, with Spirit-led discernment gave him the following penance: Go out to the crucifix in the sanctuary, stand before it and recite the following three times: “You did all this for me, and I really don’t care.” Can I tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house by the time he stumbled through the sentence the last time, unable to finish.
As you enter into Holy Week, hold onto your crucifixion nails. Don’t ever let them go. They are a beautiful reminder of what Christ did on the cross for every one of us.