Today is Holy Thursday; the beginning of the three days known as the Triduum. Triduum essentially means “the three days”. This is made up of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The Triduum is a festival encompassing three days, but could been seen liturgically as one day. It’s a single unfolding of the Paschal Mystery. The Paschal Mystery comes from the word “Pasch”, which comes from the Jewish Passover. In the Jewish Passover, we recall the story from Exodus where the Angel of death “passed over” the Jewish households in its dealings with the first born Egyptians. This Passover marked the liberation of the Jews from slavery to the Egyptians. The Paschal Mystery is the reality of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection in which he puts to death original sin through his crucifixion. This liberates us from slavery to sin and opens up the gates to heaven. The Triduum, which we are now in the midst of, allows us to enter into this incredible mystery through participation in the different liturgical events. We hear the stories of our Jewish ancestors in the readings; we venerate the Cross which served as the instrument of our salvation; we experience the barren Church on Good Friday and Black Saturday in remembrance of Jesus’ time in death; and we get a foretaste of heaven when we joyfully celebrate Jesus’ resurrection at the Easter Vigil. This is an incredible time in the year and we, as followers of Christ, should do all we can to fully enter into this season.
Holy Thursday is a significant evening to our Church. I will not go into the details, although an entire book can be written about the significance of this day. According to the Gospel today, here are some highlights:
Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.” When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
Go to the Holy Thursday celebration tonight. Fully participate. Do not allow yourself to be distracted but also remember that we celebrate this time as a family – just like the disciples celebrated with Jesus. So remember the sacredness of the season, but don’t close yourself off to loving and being in communion with those around you.
As emphasized before, the ideal situation is that you celebrate this time with your family and those closest to you, but if this is not possible then try your best with what you have. God bless you this day and know you are in our family’s prayers.
Have a blessed start to the Triduum.