Jesus used simple things in Holy Week and the Triduum to reveal profound truths about our faith.
On Holy Thursday, he sat at an ordinary wooden table with his friends and shared with them a ritual meal they had shared before. According to their faith, they would sit down again for the Passover meal. But, “See how I make all things new.”
He took a basin and a towel and showed his followers how the leader becomes a servant. He took these men whom he had called to follow him and made them new heralds of the Gospel. He called fishermen, an accountant, a physician and others from their ordinary lives and invited them to become his disciples. At that Last Supper, he instituted the priesthood and made these his first priests; still today, Jesus and his church call men to put aside their lives and give all to serve the people of God.
Next, he picked up simple bread and wine, and turned it into his own Body and Blood. With grains from the field and fruit of the vines, he gave us, not a symbol, but his real presence.
The next day, a different piece of wood tells the story: The Lord picks up his cross and carries it to his Passion and death. The cross was particularly heavy because it bore the sins of the world, not just up to that time, but those of the future – our sins were on that cross, too. But our Savior carried that burden and died to redeem us all.
And then, though the story could end there, it has a new beginning. Christ’s followers encounter an empty tomb. “He is not here,” the messenger says. No, he is not there – he is not where death is kept. He is with the living. He appears later to his followers: on the road to Emmaus, in the Upper Room, on the shores of Galilee – eating with them, comforting them, breaking open the Word, inspiring them. Death cannot constrain him; he is abundant life.
Dare we journey with Christ through the Triduum?
Will we join him at the table and celebrate the first and forever Eucharist, and pray for his worthy priests?
Will we come to the cross and entrust our sins to his divine mercy?
Will we rejoice in the empty tomb, and realize that we, too, can experience everlasting life in him?
Dare we let Christ change us, from the utterly mundane into something profound and sacred?
Gunty is the associate publisher/editor of The Catholic Review