Once again the Book of Life is opened and the Liturgy calls us to recognize ourselves and recognize our God. Once again the Church places the Passion of our Lord before our eyes. In it we can see ourselves and see God’s only begotten Son in our humanity, this time in man’s inhumanity toward man. The same roles are there; the same actors, the same forces at work in our world just as they were in the year 33A.D.
First there are the indifferent, the easy-going, those who simply drift uncaring through life, those who give consent to the Passion by silence. There are millions and millions in this majority. They wash their hands of the whole thing. They never budge as long as the blows of life fall on the backs of others. They have no opinions to voice, no stand to take. They simply let events take their course. These silent ones let the sufferings and the crucifixions of God’s sons and daughters continue unchecked.
Then there are the escapists — those who cop out. They are the people who, when things get rough, say with Peter: “I do not know the man.” Over and over again, when suffering is immanent and even obvious, they deny knowledge and will have nothing to do with the crucified.
And look, too, at the executioners. They are always the same. With their wit and with their sarcastic and cutting tongues they cut to ribbons the reputation and the very living flesh of others. Also there are the ones who take the work of another’s brain and publish it as their own, crowning the brains of others in thorns and mental anguish.
In the mob we also find the hit and runner, the cowardly little man with his hidden and vicious bomb — the one who slaps the face of Christ, spits on Him, and then runs away yelping. They are in the same class as the functionary of the Temple with his rules and regulations designed to keep everything status quo and imprisoned.
To hell with Christ they all cry out. Damn His compassion, His mercy, and His call to change and convert our violent ways. “We have a law — and by it he must die,” they cry.
Finally there is the Son of Man — the infinitely patient victim who looks up with loving and sorrow-filled eyes and shames His persecutors. He exists now in a new body. He confronts us in His corporate body, in His Mystical Body — in the good people around the world who are suffering, in hundreds of thousands of truly disabled along with those who are on welfare and relief programs, in migrant workers, in the spit-upon and whipped little people, in the elderly who are sold into poverty for thirty pieces of silver and who now live in dirty little old folks homes with little food and cock-roaches crawling around their rooms.
We feel uncomfortable, don’t we? Christ didn’t live long ago and suffer long ago in some remote and distant land. He’s here among us. His passion goes on as we speak! In the homeless street people He is shuffling aimlessly down a litter-strewn street in our big cities, talking to Himself, while suffering the institutional violence that wants to get rid of Him. He is in agony among us, living in all of those who silently suffer our institutional violence in order that others might have thirty pieces of silver.
The drama of Palm Sunday occurred not only 2,000 years ago, it is occurring in our time, in our day, in our world right now, a reality that the Church puts in front of us during this Holy Week.