We begin the Triduum – three continuous days where we enter the Passion, death and Resurrection of Christ – one continuous service that leads us from complete darkness into light starting on Thursday and culminating on Saturday.
We start with Holy Thursday.
Three things happen on Holy Thursday:
- Institution of the Priesthood;
- the Eucharist; and
- a Love stronger than death.
1) The word priest comes from Presbyter, etymologically from Greek meaning ‘elder’ or as one who leads. The priesthood was an active state lived by an elder, which, would presuppose an accrued wisdom. Christ, perfect wisdom, lived this and invites us to do the same. Can we allow wisdom that has come from Wisdom itself to lead us so that we may lead others? Do we need to be a priest to behave as a priestly people?
2) In the form of bread and wine, Christ foreshadows his offering of himself as the sacrificial lamb, his own body and his own blood as spiritual nourishment to be the example of supreme love. What does it mean to be Eucharist to one another? If our every reception of Eucharist could have the intensity of sitting at the table of the Friend who asks us to take and eat in their memory, our complacency would transform into inspiration, changing our lethargy to a becoming of agents of change.
3) In the offering of his body and blood, Christ invites us to take, eat, and remember. When we remember, we re-member, that is to say, we come to a reality of oneness with one another and become aware of our role and interconnectivity to one another. Are we the keeper of our brother and sisters?
And to give a more concrete example, Christ washes the feet of his apostles, in a role reversal of teacher and apostle. Christ did not come to be served, but rather, came to serve. We are to be servants to one another. 2000 years later, we still are trying to figure this out. Whose feet would we be hesitant to wash? Whose hands do you think twice to reach out to?
As we leave Holy Thursday, we go to the altar of repose and are invited to adore Christ’s broken body as we stay awake with him and pray that God’s will be done. We drop to our knees as Christ does and ask for strength to bear the hardship that living a life in Christ can be. Staying and keeping watch, we choose not to leave and choose not ignore.
Death does not have the final word. That word is the Word itself: Love.