The holiest season of the Church draws near. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are known as the Easter Triduum. I believe that the degree we enter into the joy of Easter is directly related to the degree that we really live through the Triduum.
On Holy Thursday we recall the Last Supper in which our Lord inaugurated both the priesthood and the Eucharist. But it was also the night of His betrayal. All of His disciples, save John, left Him. From a strictly objective viewpoint it would appear that all He taught and worked for was now lost. Holy Thursday brings tragedy, confusion, doubt, and despair. How can God's plans truly succeed when we find ourselves in such circumstances?
Good Friday is the day when our Lord gave His life for our sins. No one took it from Him. He gave it. He is, after all, the Son of God. As He said, He could have called legions of angels to His side. In fact, I often wonder if they were waiting for such a call as they also watched in horrified silence as the Lord of the universe was so mistreated by mere sinful men. Oh what a different picture it would have been if they could have done what their hearts desired. But I digress. Being, then, the Son of God it was not possible for any mortal, or all mortals combined, to put Him to death. But He freely gave His life for it was the only way possible to redeem these same mortals whom He loved more than His own life.
We call this "Good" Friday, not because His death brings any pleasure to us, but it was because it was only by means of His sacrifice that salvation has come into the world. It is good from God's standpoint as well as ours.
Holy Saturday is the day of silence. Jesus really died and was buried. When Saturday morning dawned the rest of the world went about its business as usual, but the early disciples were devastated as there had been no miracle to deliver their beloved Lord from death. Now they huddled together trying to make sense of it all and figuring out what their next steps would be.
We have a tendency to want to rush to Easter. We don't want to linger in these painful and uncomfortable moments. But we need to reckon with their reality. They have much to do with the life we are called to live every day.
I have friends who have heard the "C" word: cancer. Death stares them in the face and in response to repeated prayers of anguish there seems only the stark silence of Holy Saturday. Where is God? How could He let this happen? These were the questions of the early disciples. They are still with us today. There are others enduring equally devastating circumstances. Where is Easter morn for them? Mark this well, God has not promised that all of this life's circumstances will have a happy ending. But He has promised victory in the final outcome when death is finally defeated and we live in the light and glory of His face for eternity. That's the message of Easter and the message of the Gospel.
As I sit on the precipice of the Sacred Triduum these are some of my thoughts. I am asking for the grace of God to walk through these days and experience in the depths of my being what they offer. I am also asking that for those I know who are not merely walking through symbols but the reality of what they point to, that they too will have the grace to endure and press on as seeing the joy of the resurrection before them, even if it seems like a fading dream. May God grant us to truly know Him... in the fellowship of His sufferings and in the power of His resurrection.
May your Sacred Triduum and Easter be especially blessed!