Sunday, March 28, 2010

Selling the Drama

I've already talked about the re-invasion of the 90s and how I have mixed feelings about it. But it's videos and songs like the one of this title that give me a little warm and fuzzy nostalgia. Oh, Live. Oh, grunge. Oh, junior high school with my baggy jeans, flannel, and Chuck Taylors...

We thought we were so revolutionary. Green Day, Nirvana... Kind of the beginnings of emo, no? Oooo...I feel a popblog coming on!

What's got me thinking of emo/grunge music? Well, it's the beginning of Holy Week, of course! The "drama" of our liturgical year is at its peak! Let the emo feelings and heartstring tugging begin!

I've had many a discussion that the two Masses of the year that people really feel the compulsion to go to Church (besides Christmas and Easter) are Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday. Not because these are the days that we are reminded that we return to dust or that they mark the beginning of Lent/Holy Week. No. It's because these are the days we as Catholics get FREE STUFF.

The palm that you stick in your kitchen tucked behind the Irish Blessing or whatever religious paraphanalia might be hanging ("God Bless the Cook" or what have you...)and the ashes that you try to hide behind your bangs but not TOO much so because you want people to see you did your religious duty for the year.

Palm Sunday is an extra bonus because not only are we getting free stuff to decorate our homes with, but we get the DRAMA. A real-life passion play.

I hope this does not sound like I am mocking any of this. Maybe our humanness a little. But in the classes I am taking this semester I have learned that our need for ritual and drama is part of the liturgical deal and for good reason.

If you think about it, the memorial of Christ's Death and Resurrection becomes present for us EVERY DAY in the Eucharist at the Mass. We actively participate in each daily Mass with psalm responses and gestures...what makes Palm Sunday special?

The props. The parts. The priest starting in the back of Church so you have to crane your neck to see him. The congregation being cast in a role. Man, we love our drama. And it's only about to get more real as the week goes on.

I'm glad we start Holy Week with this drama, however. Lent has been a desert. An abscence of indulgence. So for one crazy week we get to indulge and pull out all the liturgical stops of lights, er...cameras? But most certainly action.

It's interesting, though, how the drama really is for us and kind of about us. It was the crowd that Sunday in Jerusalem that pulled out the palms and Jesus just kind of went with it. The second reading from St. Paul actually paints a very different kind of King:

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross
(Phil. 2:6-8)

We all know the many actions that take place in the "play" done on Palm Sunday. The Last Supper, Agony in the Garden, Christ being taken to Pilate, then Herod, then back to Pilate. The Way of the Cross, the Crucifixion, the prisoners' conversation with Jesus. Peter's denial.

All very familiar stories in and of themselves which give us many things to reflect on.

This year, I was struck by Jesus' responses to Pilate, the people, and Herod. Mainly because I have become so concerned about how Jesus is responding to me of late.

"When day came the council of elders of the people met,
both chief priests and scribes,
and they brought him before their Sanhedrin.
They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us, “
but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe,
and if I question, you will not respond.
But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated
at the right hand of the power of God.”
They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied to them, “You say that I am.”"
(Luke 22: 66-70)

Christ's response here is striking to me. "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond..." Huh. Is this how He answers us sometimes?

The elders are looking for a straight answer, but it's true- they wouldn't believe it or accept it if Christ just came out and said that He is the Christ. Is it with us to? Does Christ sometimes give us this response because He knows in our hearts we are not ready or willing to accept the truth? (In much gentler, non-Jack Nicholson way: " You can't handle the truth!" )

I was also struck today by the character of Barrabas. If you have seen The Passion movie that came out in '04, maybe you remember how he was portrayed. He was pretty foul looking and more than a touch crazy. Serial murderers, I suppose are like that. Ugh. I kind of shudder just thinking about the character right now...all gross and crazy...

And the crowd picked him over Jesus. We picked murder over kindness and holiness. But how often do we do this in our own lives? Hopefully, not literally murderous deeds, but we choose the ugly, crazy sin over holiness because it doesn't inconvenience us as much as truth. (Truthbomb).

Lots to think about as we enter into this week of holy. May we not just sit back and watch the show, but be active participants and play our part.


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