Were You There



So often during Holy Week we hear various renditions of a familiar hymn: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” I’d like to reflect on this song as if it were sung by two different people present for Christ’s passion - Judas and Jesus’ mother, Mary.

First, let’s look at Judas for a moment as we encounter him in today’s Gospel: a bold, prideful man who we know ends up betraying Jesus and putting into motion the foretold Passion of the Christ. We also know Judas’ eventual fate, but before this man chooses to take his own life under the weight of his shame, let’s look at what this song would look like coming from his experience of the Passion: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Sometimes it causes me to tremble.” Tremble, indeed. How often are we so ashamed of ourselves that it physically hurts us? How often are we so disgusted with our actions and our sin and our betrayal that we are sick to our stomachs? We all, to some degree, have fear and guilt. We all, to some degree, tremble in shame.

And then we have the perspective of Mary, the mother of Jesus. This sacred song sounds very different, coming from her lips: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Sometimes it causes me to tremble.” No one knew Christ’s Passion so intimately as did Mary. She journeyed with him every step, she felt his every move, and she sensed his every moment of pain. And yet she could do nothing. Mary sings not of guilt or shame; Mary sings of the indescribable pain from watching her son, the One whom she loves, suffer so greatly. She knows deeply the anguish of these wounds. Indeed, this too causes a very different trembling of the heart, a different trembling of the soul, but a tremble nonetheless.
In our daily lives, you and I experience different “tremblings”; sometimes we feel the trembling of Judas, and sometimes we feel the trembling of the Blessed Mother. What is trembling in you? We, at The Vigil Project, have been journeying together this Lent, and we invite you to continue journeying with us and to bring your tremblings to the foot of the cross. For whether it is shame and guilt and fear driving your trembling, or a compassionate heart that aches at the thought of His pain, Jesus has the victory. He can transform your guilt into redemption and your pain into glory.

Written by: Andrea Thomas