Posted on Nov 26, 2019

24 November 2019

 The people stood there watching.”

Those are the words I find most haunting from today’s gospel. “The people stood there watching.”

I have done that a lot in my life

I remember walking down a street in Minneapolis as a bag lady came in my direction.

The smell of booze was heavy all around her.

She tripped and fell and I watched as she struggled to get up.

I can remember as a child,

one of my classmates who wasn’t the brightest bulb on the tree,

who was also awkward in body and couldn’t run or catch,

I remember as some of my classmates taunted him one day on the playground,

taunted him to tears, as I watched.

I remember so many years ago now, when I was in college,

one of my dorm mates, a kid from New York,

told me one night that his father beat him regularly,

beat him enough to draw blood and break bones.

He was a skinny kid to begin with.

It wouldn’t take much to break his bones.

And I sat in my chair and watched him cry.

Those moments stay with me–

as moments of personal failure,

as moments when I knew something more was required of me than just “watching.”

I don’t think I’m unique.

I suspect everyone here can tell a story or two of just “watching.”

We may also have other stories to tell, of finer moments in our lives,

but it may just be those moment of just watching, which cost us our souls.

A thief who shouldn’t have known better is the hero in this gospel.

He does not let Jesus die alone, but begs to accompany him into the next world.

Everyone else just watches.