Thursday, 1 April 2010

The Paschal Triduum : Holy Thursday

The first part of the Triduum begins with a message to everyone, “the whole community of Israel”. All are invited to eat together the same meal on this “day of festival.” A meal is prescribed, so too is how to cook it and even what to wear. Nothing is left to chance. (Exodus 12. 1-8, 11-14).

Our second reading takes us to another meal (1 Cor 11:23-26). Paul recalls Jesus’ action the night he was betrayed. It was simple, he thanked God for bread to eat and wine to drink. He then took us beyond the meal declaring “this is my body" and immediately gave of himself - “which is for you." Something new has begun. Jesus asks us to “do this as a memorial of me”.

Although the “Eucharist” is the ‘source and summit’ of our communities worship, it does not become the central theme of the night’s liturgy whose sub theme has long been the institution of the Eucharist. The Gospel takes us further. Instead of Jesus being “Master and Lord” he becomes the servant, turning the disciples expectations of him upside down. This ‘new’ revelation of Jesus is too much for some. Certainty is replaced with confusion, and misunderstanding of the paradox. “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" questions Peter. Jesus asks him to have faith and trust in him. “you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Jesus tries to explain, but even then, Peter overstates his case, to show he hasn't understood, “(wash) not only my feet but my hands and my head as well.”

Todays readings have taken us from the prescribed, certain, clear instructions in the book of Exodus of how the people of Israel must celebrate a feast in honour of the Lord, to a community who are confused and uncertain about their encounter with Jesus the 'Master.’ All they felt sure and certain of has been turned on it’s head. Their confusion and anxiety is not about to be resolved either . . .

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