Only God could take something as brutal and wicked as a crucifixion of an innocent man and make it into something good and holy. We call today “Good Friday,” and it is good in so many ways. However, as my children are presenting a live “Stations of the Cross” today due to a request from an audience member at their Passion Play, I am vividly aware of the brutality and evil that was present during our Lord’s Passion. As I watch my children act out these scenes, I shudder. The same crowds that sang “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest,” when Jesus entered Jerusalem are now asking for his death, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” I think the Lord has a very clear understanding of the human heart.
Sacrificing your only begotten Son in itself is heart-wrenching. I think about Abraham and Isaac. God put Abraham to the test and asked him to sacrifice his son. I personally am not sure how I would respond to such a request. I would like to say my faith is such that I would gather up the wood and head up the mountain. But I know myself well enough to realize that I probably would begin a long argument with God.
But not Father Abraham! His heart must have been so pure. And I think he must have done a pretty good job raising his son Isaac because Isaac was carrying the instruments of sacrifice. Isaac even realized what was going on and asked, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” Fast forward in the story and Abraham is getting ready to sacrifice his son. Abraham was elderly and his son Isaac was a youth. I think Isaac could have fought off his father and escaped, but he clearly didn’t. Did Abraham share his faith with his son at such a deep level that even Isaac understood that God’s plan is the best plan no matter what? God stopped Abraham before he could sacrifice Isaac, but God surely saw just how much Abraham loved Him. He also saw how much Isaac was obedient to his own father and to God’s plan. This must have pleased God very much.
God asks a lot of us. He even asks for sacrifice at times. We are only capable of doing this because of His great love within us. But God never takes us over the edge. He may take us to the edge, but never beyond what we can handle. Only He is willing and able to do that as He shows with his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, on the Cross for our salvation. And that, my friends, is why He is God!
Could you take 14 kids, ranging in age from high school to kindergarten, spend only 7 1/2 hours with them, and then produce a Passion play? That’s what our awesome director did, along with myself and 2 adult volunteers. Our production had lights, music, scenery, props, costume changes–basically the works! The kids had to memorize their lines, follow all the staging cues, and work without a few actors due to illness during part of the rehearsal time. Truly, we had less than 7 1/2 hours of time with them before this group had to perform before a live audience.
Tonight, during the actual performance of The Passion of Christ, the children took to heart what our director said during rehearsal. They fully understood that their performance was to give glory to God. Their honesty and openness made quite an impact on our audience of about 50 people, ranging in age from octogenarians to newborn babies.
After the performance, many people wanted to thank my son for his role as Jesus. He is very humble and graciously accepted their kind words. On the drive home, I asked him how he thought he did, since I was mostly backstage and didn’t see the performance. In his usual low-key manner, he said, “Well, I think I had a lot of help.” I asked, “From the Holy Spirit?” He said, “Yes, definitely.”
You wouldn’t know it from seeing him on stage or from talking with him afterwards, but my son’s role as Jesus Christ deeply impacted him. He told me this was a very difficult role for him for a variety of reasons. Knowing my son, I didn’t ask for those details just yet. He will slowly reveal them as he sees fit. I am so proud of him for taking on this enormous role. After the play, I saw a transformation in my son. I don’t think I can put into words what I saw. It was in his eyes. I think some of my photos captured it. I don’t know, but I think I saw the eyes of Jesus.
Have I mentioned we are doing a Passion Play and that my son has the part of Jesus? I also have children playing the parts of St. Peter, St. John, one of the Weeping Women of Jerusalem and the Narrator. I am the Stage Manager, which basically means no one else wanted the job, especially since it entails hauling wooden crosses, backdrops, props and costumes. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with my minivan!
Speaking of my minivan, today I evangelized to a couple thousand people in about 2 hours. How? Well, all you have to do is strap some huge crosses onto the top of your minivan and drive down a highway around rush hour. Then, you discover that the bridge is closed because of a “crane” accident, and you take an hour-long detour with all your fellow commuters. Finally, when you have made it across the river on a different bridge, you find yourself on a detour of a detour! Yes, the route I selected detoured me again because of another street closing. Basically, God allowed me to ride around our city for a solid two hours with people looking at us, and pointing, and some even honking. Because I am optimistic, I think those honks were in support of Jesus.
Meanwhile, my son who will be on the Cross next week during our Passion Play, had to carry the base of his cross because it would not fit anywhere else in the car. At one point, he had nails digging into his skin. He became very uncomfortable. I really felt his pain and tried to help the best I could while navigating stop-and-go traffic. But the base is very heavy, and we didn’t know there were nails in the bottom, plus there wasn’t much I could do to help except be in his pain with him, like the Blessed Mother was with Jesus.
I have to say that seeing your son dying on a Cross is a very emotional moment. I am curious how his father/my husband will do when he sits in the audience and sees this for the very first time on the evening of our live performance. I hope he has a hanky with him!
I am measuring my son’s arm span this morning to fit him for a cross. Last night, I wove a crown of thorns. As I worked, I was thinking things like, “Hmmm…those thorns don’t look sharp enough. How do I make them sharp? Do I have enough big thorns?” I feel like I am in a really terrifying Twilight Zone episode!
We are putting on a Passion Play and my son auditioned and received the part of Jesus. The director spent quite some time preparing him for this role. Not only mentally and emotionally but spiritually. She is a nationally recognized professional who has been in all sorts of performances, but she shared with him that anyone who takes on the role of Jesus Christ is always in for a tremendous journey of faith. I can see that I am in for a journey, too.
When I found out my son had the part of Jesus, tears welled up in my eyes. I have such a deep devotion to our Blessed Mother that I have very intense feelings of her sorrow during her Son’s Passion. I am not sure how I will be able to be the Stage Manager while watching my son walk the Way of the Cross.
As I shared all of this with my dear friend, she turned to me and said, “How do you think I feel? My daughter is the tormentor!” We both laughed until tears ran down our faces. Thank you, God, for dear friends who can make us laugh when facing something difficult.