Crucify him

by Fr. Jeff

“I look forward to Holy Week each year.” Talking to some of the altar servers before Mass, their excitement was apparent.

“I do, too!” I said.” I knew that the reading of the Passion would take on new significance for me as a newly ordained priest.

I was right.

As a young child, the reading of the Passion always stood out to me as one of the highlights of the liturgical year. Maybe I intuited that it was the telling of the story of my salvation. But for whatever reason, I had always wanted to take part in it.

For the first time this year, I would be participating in the telling of the Passion. But until we started the proclamation, I never took the time to reflect on the role that I would play. Even with the first few words, I didn’t think too much about playing the role of Jesus.

I tried to speak clearly, as I imagined Jesus would have.

When I found myself before Pilate, it wasn’t the words that I had to say that caught me off guard. Rather, it was the words that I had to listen to:

What do you want me to do with the man you call the king of the Jews?

In the many ways that I have stood in persona Christi capitis before, this one was new. Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of the way that the Faithful, priests included, will be treated in the coming years. Maybe it was an insight into my own weakness before the Cross. But whatever Your reason was, that moment will have a lasting effect on my priesthood.

In one voice, the crowd cried out. Standing alone before them all, I could do nothing but shudder:

crucify him!