Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. (Lk 23:46)
These three days begin and end with a meal.
On Thursday, Jesus and the disciples celebrate the ritual meal of the Passover: “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, who all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.” (cf. Ex. 12.1-8, 11-14) In the midst of the supper, Jesus washes the feet of those present – much to their puzzlement and surprise! He assures them they will understand later. “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (cf. John 13.1-15)
He gives the ritual of the bread and the wine a brand new meaning, saying, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (cf. 1Cor. 11.23-26)
Jesus then leaves the upper room with his disciples, and goes to the garden, where they had often met these past years. He enters into his agony, as prophesied by Isaiah so long ago. (cf.Is 52:13—53:12)
Then Judas betrays Jesus and his ‘trial’ begins as he is shuffled between the Jewish leaders and then Pilate, Annas, Caiaphas, and back to Pilate. The disciples followed all of this right to Golgotha and the crucifixion and death of Jesus. (cf. John 18:1—19:42) They were in a state of confusion and dismay, wondering “what now?”
After Jesus’ hasty burial because the Sabbath was near, all they could do now was observe the Sabbath. Everything was over! .The disciples could only mourn and mull over their time with this hoped-for Messiah. . . . until Sunday . . .!!!!
For us, the Triduum culminates in the celebration of the Eucharistic meal during the Easter Vigil in the night of Saturday. We reconnect with our Jewish roots, as we listen to the special readings which recount the whole story of our salvation history beginning with Creation, recalling the major events of our Jewish history, and remembering what happened on that Easter Sunday – when the resurrection affirmed the faith of the disciples in their Savior. The wonder and the joy of that day permeate the whole day.
The “new covenant” of God’s people with their God has begun! After our forty days of Lenten preparation we too can rejoice!