Holy Week is coming. And with it, the reading of the Passion. Every year, I stand up in Mass with everyone around me and we, the crowd, shout, “Crucify Him!” I have to admit that it makes me cringe to hear my voice, and those of my parents and my husband and my children, and my friends and neighbors, all shouting together, “Crucify Him!” And yet, it’s true.
It is for us He was crucified. For our sins. Not for the sins of some unruly mob two thousand years ago . . . for my sins and for yours. We shout, “Crucify Him!” every day in the secret of our hearts, and then, once a year, we shout it aloud for everyone to hear. It’s a humbling thing, but I’m grateful for it, nonetheless . . . for this opportunity to enter into the Gospel, to enter into the story of the Passion.
Today’s Gospel gives us another of these opportunities to enter into the life of Jesus, perhaps less well-known, but I have found it to be a really profound way to set the stage for Holy Week in my home and in my heart. This Gospel reading according to Saint John was, in the pre-1970 Missal, read on the fifth Sunday of Lent, then called “Passion Sunday” and the last two weeks of Lent, the final push before Good Friday and Easter, was called “Passiontide.”
We read: “So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.”
From these lines, from Jesus hiding Himself from the crowd who rejects Him, comes the tradition of veiling statues and crucifixes in churches and in homes on the evening of the fifth Sunday of Lent. For the preceding weeks of Lent, hopefully, we’ve been trying to focus on the ways we could better love and serve God and our neighbor. Finally, in these last two weeks, we have the opportunity to recognize and humbly admit to our own weakness and sin, and all the ways that we reject Jesus.
As Catholics, we recognize the power of sacred images, and especially the Crucifix, to draw us towards Jesus. For fifty weeks of the year, the many Crucifixes in my home recall my thoughts to Jesus and His great love for me. For two weeks of the year, throughout my home, they are hidden beneath a veil of purple cloth. Covered, they become an even more visible reminder to pray and recollect my thoughts to Christ and His Passion.
So, if you don’t have a Crucifix in your home, today would be a great day to get one. No time like the present. Then, consider getting some inexpensive purple cloth from the fabric store, and joining me in veiling your statues and crucifixes, entering into the Gospel, admitting our faults, and preparing our hearts for the sorrow of Holy Week and the joy of the Resurrection.
How can you prepare for Holy Week in your home, with your family or friends? Consider the Crucifix today.
Kendra Tierney is wife to a good man and mother to eight pretty good kids. Together they are fixing up a tumbledown hundred year old house. She’s a writer, and a blogger, and a graphic designer, and a homeschooler, and a regular schooler. Her word art is available here. Her book, A Little Book About Confession for Children, is available here. Find out more about her here.