|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Would We Do
In listening to the passion of Christ in its totality, we can be affected in different ways because there are so many layers to the story. If, for a moment, we imagine ourselves in that story, somewhere in the crowds, for example, we see Jesus somewhere along the way. Where and what role do we think we would play? Just think about it for a couple of seconds.
There is a TV show called, “What Would You Do?” The show creates scenarios for testing moral or ethical behavior. All the cameras are hidden, and most of the team are actors, except for a few unsuspecting people whose characters are tested.
Sometimes it happens in a store or a restaurant, and they see what other people would do in certain circumstances.
Recently, a show depicted a woman who is on food stamps, but she is not able to pay for the food, as she is short a few dollars. What did the people behind her in the line do? Everyone was an actor, including the cashier, except for the people behind her in the line. It is surprising how some people reacted and maybe even embarrassing! In a situation like this, we ask ourselves “what would we do?” Most of our hearts would be tugged, and we would do something. But in other situations, we might just go along with the crowd.
In today’s first Gospel reading that we heard outside before Mass, we heard how the crowds welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem. But just five days later that same crowd called “Let him be crucified! Let him be crucified!” It is the same crowd, so what happened? I suspect it was sort of a crowd mentality.
The challenge for us as Christians is to step out of the crowd and to do the right thing. That is the call to be a Christian. In our secular society, we are told life is about us as individuals – society says we can pull ourselves up by the bootstraps; if we need help, we have to go out and help ourselves. It is all in our hands. And largely our society is built on that.
But that is not the way Christ envisioned the world. Christ said we ought to help each other. There are times when one person needs help, and there are other times when somebody else needs help. Sometimes that other person is ourself!
Jesus makes it clear: we have to help one another. That is what we are called to do. The will of the Father for us is that we pour out ourselves constantly, even to the point of death, for others. That is what Christ demonstrated today. We need to speak out and step up.
Today, we are called not to blend in with the crowd; we are called to be Christians, to follow Christ, and to step up and do the right thing. For every one of us it will be something different. But the question he asks us all – what would we do? – what will we do this very day to be called a Christian?