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"Crucify Him!"-- UPDATED

Catholics who attend Good Friday services all take part in a little play. The Passion according to St. John is read, with two lectors taking the part of a narrator and various players, the priest speaking the part of Christ, and the crowd-- well, the crowd is in charge of being the crowd. That means we say, many times, many ways, "Crucify him!"

When this is a yearly thing, it's easy to tune out and plunge all this into banality. When I was a sophomore, one of my brothers softly changed "We want Barabbas!" into "Wewease Woger!" at a Notre Dame Palm Sunday dorm Mass, which earned stifled snickers from those around us and one hearty glare from the celebrant.

But somewhere between the Peeps and the Magic Crayon, there is this: You're responsible for what happened that day. I'm responsible. This extends beyond guilt into truth and action. Because even though there's a good ending to Good Friday, we're still responsible--for each other.

Crucifixion UPDATE: I seem to have offended at least one (Apparently Now Former) The Reader with this one, and I'm sorry if the post is not clear. I meant emphasize the meaning of Good Friday--which is not only that our own sins put Christ on the cross, but that we are also charged with treating one another with mercy, kindness, tough love when necessary, and extra Peeps at every possible turn. A blessed Easter to all of you.

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Reader Comments (14)

Well said, MB.

March 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChelsea

That responsibility is a matter of opinion and yours is not the only one, not the only truth. Of course this is your blog, of course it is your right to express your personal opinion and perspective within such.

And of course it is every reader's right to disagree, within such a public forum, and not read any longer. Particularly if they do not wish to experience a writer whom is willing to use their blog as a religious platforn and point a guilt laden finger at them yet limits readers' responses at times when they challenge her.

Sincerely, all the very best to you - I mean that. I hope your other Dear The Readers will understand that this is in fact an example of being honest in response to a post, then deciding to read no longer and move on, rather than presuming I am attacking you.

Your truth is your truth (just don't speak to me as if mine must be the same is really my point) and I hope you have a beautiful weekend and lifetime celebrating such. I really do - much love and life to you.


March 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHRJ

Excellent comment, MB. Have a blessed Easter.

March 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmy P.

At the service today, as is the practice, we prayed for not only the Catholic Church, but also Protestants, members of the Jewish faith and other non-Christians, atheists, and all elected leaders. It is one of the reasons I find Good Friday services so affecting. And so I did not mean to leave the impression that other people do not have the right to their own opinions, HRJ. I am sorry if it seemed this way, and it grieves me that you will not be reading anymore.

But I also must write as I am. I would rather have one The Reader a day and write unfettered, and purely from my perspective, than be bigger than Google by "virtue" of keeping my mouth shut for fear of offending. BlondeChampagne is a nonfiction literary blog, not a religious one. I write about a lot of different things here: God, nephews, http://blondechampagne.wordpress.com/2008/03/07/fruited-plains/" rel="nofollow">Unidentified Red Crap on a Stick. However, it really wouldn't be my site if I, as a practicing Catholic, felt moved to post a religious reflection on Good Friday and then held back because I didn't want to scare off The Readers who might disagree. When I start doing that, I might as well shut this place down.

However, I fear you misunderstand my commenting policy if you are of the opinion that I "limit readers' responses" just because they might posit a different opinion. There are many instances of readers' disagreements with me throughout the site. Measured discussion such as what you have left here is welcome. Insults, flames, and troll-baiting, as discussed in the policy, are not.

The commenting policy is not in place to protect me, but The Readers and the community we have created here. After a few troll eruptions, I promised myself that that the anonymous anger which has so poisoned the internet would no longer find quarter in this space. To that end, sometimes I have not published comments which sought to defend or agree with me, but did so in a vicious or all-caps manner. In fact, although you have openly disagreed with me and have stated that you won't return any longer, you may rest assured that, in keeping with this policy, I will strike any comments which may attack *you* in this way.

I thank you for your honesty, and you are always welcome back.

March 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Such a beautiful moment when Jesus reaches through Hallmark commercialism and trite holiday bumper stickers and allows us a peek of His love, His passion, His sacrifice. Thank you for reminding us, Mary Beth. From one former English major and current one-day-gonna-be-famous writer to another: I love your blog. I came for the humor, I stay for the heart. God bless!

March 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarahBeth

MB, of course you shouldn't have to censor yourself for fear of offending. What goes with that is simply this: in doing so, not everyone will have a positive response and may move on. I haven't or won't for one second say you shouldn't write what you write: I have placed the onus on myself by deciding to read no more.

I get what you meant by your initial post. I agree that we are responsible for treating one another well, yes. But my point is this: who are you (I do not say this aggressively, please believe that) to say to me: "You are responsible" from within a sepcific Christ-on-the-cross context? Who are you to tell me that? It's not a generalised sentence, expressing your beliefs alone, it is one directly spoken to each individual reader here. When you say the latter rather than something more generalised than "it's my belief we are all responsible for placing Him there" it does, IMO, become guilt laden finger pointing. "You are responsible" is a very direct comment to make to all who read here. Whether or not a reader recognises your right to your own beliefs, they may exercise their own by choosing to not accept that finger pointing, inadvertant or not, and reading no more. If you were a regular reader of a blog you loved, then one day read a phrase that said, for example, that you were responsible for something you do not in fact believe, you might perhaps move on, too. All the while, of course, recognising the writer's right to their own beliefs but perhaps feeling a little offended that they spoke such a phrase so very directly to you, to each reader. That's it, really, for me.

Again, you have nothing but my well wishes.

(I do recognise that you have in fact often welcomed healthy discussion: the one regarding Catholicism and having children is a genuinely good example of that. Ironically enough, that very post / discussion highlights to me why I am not a big fan and will in no way accept Catholic guilt).

March 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHRJ

**Why I am not a big fan OF and will in no way accept Catholic guilt **

March 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHRJ

You leave out the fact I followed the sentence "You're responsible" with "I'm responsible." I'm not accusing anybody here of anything I don't say to myself. Am I pointing the finger? Yep. Does that make it personal? You betcha. Because the entire point of Christianity is that even though we put him on that cross, Christ also stayed there, for us, personally. If you were the only person ever born on the face of this Earth, and even if you don't believe that He is the Messiah, He'd still go through it all. He'd do the same for me, too. Am I worthy? By myself, not by a long shot. He did it because He chose to do so, out of love.

So yes, I'm making accusations...to the whole entire human race, which includes me. Christianity states that Christ died to save us, redeem us from our sins. If there were no sin, He wouldn't have had to endure the Crucifixion. But since we all sin, we're all responsible... and I believe that applies whether a person believes in and follows Christ or not. Hitler and Mother Theresa.: Both sinners, both responsible, both using the gift of free will in vastly different ways. The fundamental difference between how these two people lived their lives? One was humble and bent on avoiding personal sin while mitigating the effects of it in others. The other, full of self and totally invested in worldly power, spread sin. And yet Christ died for both.

Of course, 99% of us fall somewhere between these two. So who am I to tell you that "you're responsible"? Just another of the 99%, a fully equal human being who was built for good but who all too often abuses the gift of free choice... like nearly everybody else out there. I think a lot of people-- I include myself here--are in "gimmie" mode, or think they can "earn" God's love, and don't accept responsibility for their actions. Personal responsibility is, I'm afraid, in short supply, and that is why this passage in the Good Friday Gospel has always particularly struck me.

In a Christian, not just Catholic, context, I think it behooves everyone (once more, including me) to remember the importance of personal responsibility, especially this time of year. To me, Good Friday is about stopping and acknowledging our own role in the salvation story, our need for God's help. It doesn't mean we're dirt. No, we are "wonderfully made," as the Psalm says. But it does mean that we could all do a better job in taking responsibility for ourselves and others.

If you find that offensive, then, well, so be it. Christ was offensive to many, and He, of course, had infinitively more moral authority than I ever will. Real, tough, non-sugary Christianity is not, nor has it ever been, an easy thing, because sin can't be overcome unless we see it for what it really is, and accept the fact that we all fall victim to it.

Me, as always, included.

March 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB

**Standing up and cheering**

Way to go, MB!!! Well spoken! And Happy Easter, from Kayla and I. Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed!

Wow! That's all I can really think of right now. In reading the original post and your responses to the one The Reader who didn't understand your intent when you wrote the post, I was brought back to the days of my childhood when my grandparents (two of the most devout Christians I will ever know, albeit Protestant) sat with me after the family Easter Egg Hunt and read a children's story about the true meaning of Easter.
The last response you wrote also brought back The Passion of the Christ (I think that's the correct title)--the movie by Mel Gibson. That movie brought home in very graphic fashion how we are all responsible for Christ's death on the cross, yet how He went through all that not to guilt us or to punish us, but rather because He loves us all so much.
Thanks, then, for taking the time to remind us all that while we love Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies, it really is all about remembering Christ. I love that this is the one day where Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, are as one!
By the way, one of my most favorite cartoon drawings about Easter was drawn by a college friend of mine. It depicts a bunny who has set down his basket of Easter eggs and is kneeling in front of The Cross with his head bowed and his little hands folded in prayer.

March 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWiserlemmingAZ

One more thing, on a bit of a lighter note. I had to chuckle at the line in your original post where you talk about one of your "brothers" whispering "we want Barabbas" during the Mass.
When I was 11 or 12 years old, my family took a summer road trip from Indiana to Colorado by way of South Dakota and Wyoming. I can't remember which of those two states it was, but one of them holds an outdoor Passion Play. We attended, and it was all too real---audience participation and all. My brother, who would have been 8 or 9 at the time, really did SHOUT "Free Barabbas" when everyone else was shouting "Crucify Him"!
Thanks for bringing back that memory for me. We lost my brother in July of 1997 to a fatal heart arrhythmia. I miss him terribly, and find myself clutching any happy memories that I can find. This is one I will cherish. On this Easter Sunday, I can imagine him up in Heaven having a good laugh about that. He had such a quick wit!

March 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWiserlemmingAZ

This is how a Lutheran and a Catholic can make a marriage work. We both subscribe to what MB outlined above. Everything else is secondary.
Happy Easter, everyone. Christ is risen! He is alive!

March 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJosh The Pilot

I totally don't remember that story about Woger. =)

What struck me this year is how I now have individuals to pray for in all the Good Friday intentions. Except the one for the Muslim/Buddist/misc./etc.

The Passion according to John is one of the more theological readings of the year, and I am glad I was able to do it again this year...and able to do it without the Missal.

Off-topic: Irish Hockey made the NCAAs.

March 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFlip

That's because it happened in... another dorm, dearest Flip. You weren't there. But I wish you were, as you would have deemed the moment truly awesome.

OK, everybody, this year's showing of "The Ten Commandments" is done, which, as we all know, officially closes the Easter season... one last "Moses, Moses!" for the road. There are the simmering embers of a flame war here, and I'm no fan of sifting through and deleting personal attacks against your fellow The Readers-- even when those posts purport to agree with me or support my positions. Y'all know the rules.

And so for the protection of all, we shall, as always, use fire here only for the creation of s'mores. This here thread is hereby locked. Move along.

March 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMB
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