Immersive theatre is a popular form of entertainment in which the audience become participants in the drama. The distinction between actor and spectator becomes blurred. Entering Holy Week is rather like being invited into an immersive theatre experience to help us understand the core of our Christian faith – the heart of why God sent Jesus into the world. In Holy Week, we are encouraged to immerse ourselves in Jesus’ actions and experiences as he entered Jerusalem on his way to his death sentence. We become participants in his story as we reflect on our humanity. In the Palm Sunday dramatized reading of the Passion Narrative a group of readers cry out “Let him be crucified”! We become part of the crowd calling for Jesus’ death.
There are many elements of the drama of Holy Week that I would rather skip or not dwell on too deeply. It’s painful reflecting on the details of Jesus’ crucifixion. How much easier, but ultimately unsatisfactory, it would be to go straight from the donkey to the empty tomb, leaving out all the nasty bits. However, if we are able to get to church this coming week, or if we can read about the events in our Bibles, we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the Last Supper, Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, Peter’s denial, Jesus’ journey to the cross and crucifixion, the dawn of Easter Day and then the glory of the Resurrection. Leaving out part of the story would be like leaving out scenes from a Shakespeare play. It just wouldn’t work.
As this week unfolds perhaps we can ask ourselves “Who am I in this story?” – a sleeping disciple maybe or someone like Peter who is too frightened to own up to my faith? Maybe I identify with Mary who weeps for her dead son or Mary Magdalene who tells her friends: “I have seen the Lord”. As the words of Eucharistic Prayer D say: “This is our story; this is our song”. The week is meant to be taken as a whole; it’s the holy drama of our salvation and the on-going story of God’s immersive love in the world.