April 1: The Three Days: Paschal Triduum

Updated: Apr 2

Holy Thursday (Afternoon)

April 1, 2021

Last night, I participated in a Hunger Seder for Passover. The Passover Seder is an annual liturgy that retells - and invites us to re-see - the Exodus story of freedom from slavery. In foundational ways, the Exodus story is an origin story for a people.

This Hunger Seder revisited the 10 plagues - the ten ways God tried to help Pharoah see God, see Moses, see the enslaved, and be moved to set them free. My small group looked at the plague of lice or bugs, and how in today’s world, lice might represent economic disparities and lack of sufficient income for the working poor. The Jewish faith does not spiritualize the plagues, but re-imagines them with the needs of the modern world.

We, too, are entering a powerful origin story, for Christianity. The Triduum retells the story, the events, of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ over three days. It is considered so central to Catholicism, that these three days are not deemed “holy days of obligation;” the Church assumes all Catholics will participate in them.

Lent gives way and births the Last Supper. Some scholars believe it is a Passover meal, some do not. But I like the connection to the Jewish Passover celebration. I imagine Jesus, a Jew, would be sitting down with the disciples commemorating the Exodus, the great story of God reaching down into human history and freeing an enslaved people, body and soul. Then I see Jesus-God recreating with his own body this same story of freedom.

In the Passover Seder, there are four children who are invited to ask questions about the history of the Jewish people. Perhaps we can bring this tradition into our own Triduum origin story: What are the questions you have as it is retold?

If you were a simple child, a wise child, a child who didn’t know what questions to ask, or a rebel child who asks the questions that bump up against the status quo – what do you ask of the Last Supper? The time in the garden of Gethsemane? The time in the Praetorium before Pilate and Herod? The time walking to Calvary? The time of the crucifixion? The time on the cross? The time in the tomb?

May your Triduum be a holy walk with God, asking questions, seeing new connections, being transformed.

These reflections are meant to challenge us on our journey through Lent. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments with us.

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