Lent is over and now we begin to celebrate these three most sacred days that commemorate the center of our Christian faith. Paying homage to our Jewish roots, we begin after sunset “on the night before he died,” and keep a modified vigil. Tomorrow, we will lift high the cross. On Saturday & Sunday, we will light the Easter flame, discover anew the empty tomb, and proclaim for ourselves and for the world that he is not among the dead, but here, with the living.
For this reason, it is important that we not get distracted today by some of Holy Thursday’s evocative traditions. Some still dwell on the ordained priesthood. Others focus on the solemn procession and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Still others spotlight the moving ritual of the washing of the feet.
However, as inspiring as these may be, none are the heart of the first of the Sacred Triduum celebrations during the three days that lead up to Easter. For this, we turn to today’s appointed scripture readings that, each in its own way, draws us to the irremovable, yet not gentle, core of these days:
- Exodus: Sacrifice the lamb and sprinkle blood. The Egyptian first born will be killed.
- Corinthians: On the night before handed over. Proclaim his death.
- John: Hour to pass to the Father. Wash the feet.
The first reading from Exodus confronts us with the “blood of the lambs and the guts of the Egyptians” as the price for the Jews’ Passover liberation from slavery in Egypt.
Paul’s letter taught the Corinthian Christians and reminds us: “that when we share this meal, we proclaim his death.”
And in a more euphemistic and elegant way the evangelist John informs us of Good Friday’s agonizing crucifixion by announcing “this is the hour for Jesus to pass to the Father.