During the liturgies of Palm Sunday and Good Friday, the assembly has the unique experience of helping to proclaim the Gospel. Perhaps it feels strange to repeat the words of the crowd, calling for the crucifixion of Christ. Certainly we do not want Jesus to suffer.
Our participation in this Gospel is an invitation to take the Passion of Jesus Christ personally. One way we do this is to examine ourselves in the light of the Gospel and discern which figures in the Gospel narrative we might resemble. Are we like Peter, who spoke enthusiastically about being faithful to Christ but then deserted him when things became difficult? Are we like Judas, who traded his faithfulness to Christ for material gain? Are we like Pilate, who tried to wash his hands of responsibility for his actions? Are we like the crowd, easily swayed from praising Christ to condemning him? Are we like Simon of Cyrene, who carried the cross only under protest, because he had to?
The list of characters could go on. Hopefully we are like the Apostle John and the Virgin Mary, who remained with Jesus until the end. Hopefully we imitate Jesus himself, as he forgave his executioners from the cross. Taking the Passion personally means that we recognize our call to imitate the Lord and those who are closest to him.
Taking the Passion personally also means that we remember that Jesus suffered and died for each of us. His redemptive love for us is so great that he gave his life, and then took it up again, for each of us personally. How blessed we are to be loved so much! Gratefully we accompany the Lord throughout this Holy Week.