“They will look upon him whom they have pierced.” - Jn. 19:37

As the Passion narrative was proclaimed on Palm Sunday, my 1-year-old daughter Clare became fixated on the soldiers. She pointed to the Stations of the Cross and said, “Soldiers, take it out. Take out nails.” She could not understand all the layers of betrayal and deceit; she could not understand a prophecy being fulfilled. All she knew was that these soldiers should stop hurting Jesus.

The lectors continued reading and the Gospel scene unfolded: the Apostles, the high priest Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, the crowd. Everyone is too scared or too powerless to stop this story.  Clare kept repeating her request. “Soldiers, take it out. Take out nails.” Despite Clare’s persistent objections to change 2,000 years of history, those soldiers did not take out the nails. Instead, everyone left Jesus to die on the cross. 

When my daughter looked at me with pleading eyes, begging me to change the course of history, I felt myself a powerless bystander in the story. As adults, we know that Easter Sunday will come, and that reassurance can tempt us to spiritualize what is happening as “all a part of God’s plan.” Today, I can’t take a shortcut through Holy Week and head straight to my Easter preparations.

“Soldiers, take it out. Take out nails.” Like each player in the Passion story, I want someone else to be responsible for turning away the person in need. I want to avert my eyes from the pain of those around me: the homeless, the grieving, the depressed, the immigrant, the lost. I feel more poignantly the pain of my own inaction. I feel the pain of others that I can’t or don’t want to lessen.

Today, in the midst of caring for my children, cleaning the house, and finalizing our Easter egg hunt, I am finding some time to simply sit with Clare’s desire for someone to help Jesus.  Instead of rushing to understanding, I am sitting with that request today. I hear her saying to me, “Mommy, take it out, take out nails.”

What if I imagined Jesus looking at me, addressing me by name, saying: “Jen, take them out. Take out my nails.”

Jen Coito

Photo Credit: Milada Vigerova