March 29, 2018 – Year B
Readings: Ex 12:1-8, 11-14 / Ps 116 / 1 Cor 11:23-26 / Jn 13:1-15
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
Welcome to the start of the Holy Triduum. The Holy Triduum is three nights: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and it ends with the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that it really is one whole long liturgy strung together. Tonight will not end like a Mass normally ends. Tomorrow night won’t start like it normally does and also, tomorrow night the ending will be a little bit different. Then, if you come to all three liturgies, you will notice that the Easter Vigil does not start normally either. This is a solemn time.
When Father Sal asked me to preach tonight, I realized that there’s so much to work with, and pretty quickly it got overwhelming. We start off being reminded of what the Passover is. Jesus’s Passion took place during Passover, as we heard in the first reading. The second reading talks about the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper. Then, in the gospel, we hear the wonderful story about how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. As I was trying to decide which way to go, I decided that instead, I would just offer you a few things to think about that I believe will help you as you celebrate this holy season.
The first thing I want you to be thinking about is our brothers and sisters who are going to come into the church during the Easter Vigil: the Catechumens and the Candidates. The Candidates are already baptized and have decided to join and enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. The Catechumens have never been baptized, so they will get the “whole deal” at the Easter Vigil: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. This is a very special time for them. It’s that final time of preparation when they’re getting ready to enjoy what has been, at least for some of them, a year of preparation. Some of you, like myself, were not born Catholic, and to you and me, the Easter Vigil is an anniversary; very special. I would ask that you keep these Catechumens and Candidates in prayer as they prepare.
The second thing I want you to consider doing is to pay attention to the readings and put yourself into the readings. It’s a wonderful technique. Pick a character in a reading and just pretend that’s you. Oftentimes, it’s pretty accurate. I love St. Peter. He’s one of my heroes. St. Peter is full-bore for an instant and then he stops to think. We should probably all be a little bit more like that. But he also had his problems, like all of us do. He swore that he would be with the Lord until the end, and when they came to arrest Him, he fled. In fact, all of the disciples fled. There was only one disciple of the twelve that was at the foot of the cross.
Sometimes we might look down on them, but if I’m honest, I’m oftentimes a lot like those disciples. I have good intentions but I often fall short. In fact, there’s probably a little bit of Judas in all of us, too: when we neglect to live up to our baptism, when we turn our back on those around us, and when we turn our back on the Lord. Thankfully, we have the sacraments to strengthen us and to bring us back when we stray.
The third thing I want you to keep in mind during the Triduum is this: I want you to keep Jesus at the center, because that’s the whole point. Jesus suffered, died, and was buried for us. Jesus was the Paschal Lamb, and Jesus is a model. He did a wonderful thing as he washed the disciples’ feet, and we are to do the same thing. We are to serve one another. We are to serve those that we meet.
But Jesus is not just a really nice guy. Jesus is not just a holy man. Jesus is the Word incarnate. He is the only begotten Son of God, fully divine and fully human. Often in our culture, we reduce Jesus to a “guru,” but He is so much more. If Jesus is just a holy man, then His dying for us was for nothing. The reason that our sins are forgiven is because God Himself offered Himself. God, the infinite, the ultimate, made the ultimate sacrifice for us. I invite you, as we move toward Easter, to keep that at the heart of all of your prayer, all of your focus. May you have a blessed Easter season.