I was at a retreat this past weekend (future blog post), and the priest leading the retreat mentioned how one of his old students texted the link to the YouTube video below.
First, some background. For most Christians, the Sunday before Easter is known as Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday. On this day, we commemorate Jesus’ triumphant arrival entering into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19: 28-40, John 12:12-19). This was a big deal because the people of Jerusalem had heard about the works of mercy and miracles Jesus performed in neighboring cities. And they welcomed him by laying palm branches and their cloaks on the ground as he rode in on his donkey with his disciples following him.
For Catholics, Mass always begins with a procession. And for Palm Sunday, usually the priest invites the congregation to meet outside of the church for a blessing of the palm branches. Then he reads a Gospel account of Jesus entering into Jerusalem. After this, the priest and his helpers (deacons, acolytes, altar servers) process in with the congregation carrying palm branches to signify this triumphant arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem.
And every Catholic Mass has a reading of the Gospel, and every Palm Sunday, an account of the Passion is read from Jesus’ betrayal to his burial in the tomb because it prepares us for Holy Week and to reflect on the Passion before we celebrate His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. I’m not sure how other parts of the Catholic world read it, but at least here in the United States, the Passion is read in parts. Usually the priest reads what Jesus said, another speaker reads stuff like what Pilate, Herod, and other individuals said. Another person narrates. But the whole congregation participates too at certain points.
For example, you can read Luke 22: 14-23 and kind of see how you could split the dialogues into different parts. Now, this is not a performance even though everyone has a speaking part. It is an active participation of the Gospel, moreso than usual, for everyone. Yes, in words, but with the intent of really placing ourselves in that setting of Jerusalem 2000 years ago. Or at least, everyone needs to be fully engaged and actively participate. But why? Why do it this way? Do we get anything out of it by doing it this way?
With all that in mind, that provides the context for this video and perhaps it illustrates the answer to why it is done this way:
Crucify him! Crucify him!