Triduum Sacrum: Holy Thursday

Triduum Sacrum: Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Exodus 12:1-8; 11-14; Psalm 116; I Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15

Do you recall the scene in the movie, The Ten Commandments of that sickly green finger of a cloud descending from the sky and moving through the streets?   Do you remember the screams and cries from behind closed doors?

What are we to make of our God passing over his people marked by the thickly smeared blood of slaughtered lambs to kill scores of innocent first – born sons and daughters and animals?

Were the Israelites awed by God’s display of power and might, or as they held their children, their first – born close to them, were they horrified by this act?   Was this to be the cost of liberation from slavery?  What triumph could there be in this story that is drowned out by the inescapable sound of weeping Egyptian parents?

The story raises serious questions about God and human liberation.

The Passover experience is filled with fierce and primal images that raise difficult and uncomfortable questions.  And if at the heart of this event is the killing of the first – born, of which Jesus was one, these images and questions were also part of his mindset as Jesus presided over the Passover Seder the night before he died.  What was going through Jesus’ mind when he broke the bread?   …when he poured the wine?  …when he spoke of body and blood?

The story raises serious questions for us.

The people are commanded to eat the Passover meal with their shoes on and fully dressed.  They are to eat in a hurry; being ready to leave as soon as possible.  These divine instructions draw our attention to aspects of life that disturb us; that cause us great stress; that we resist at all costs: change, flight and the lack of possessions.

Yet refugees are at our borders from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras with no possessions, having had to flee, often with a moment’s notice from death.  Refugees from throughout Africa and the Middle East are at the borders of Italy and Greece being forced with no possessions to flee their homelands because of violence and famine.

Rohingya refugees are at the borders of Bangladesh with no possessions, having had to flee death; often at a moment’s notice.  Mentally ill, hungry and homeless refugees pass through the borders of Oneonta with few possessions.

Passover is a present living event.  So is the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is a Passover meal.
It too is about the blood of a lamb; blood that protects us from death.
It is about refugees in our midst fleeing from death.
It is about the amount of material and emotional possessions in our life that weigh us down from following God.  How prepared are we to move with God when we receive the command?

Recall Luke’s Passion on Palm Sunday when Jesus asked, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?”  Do you remember the response of the disciples?  They replied, “We were in need of nothing”.

Passover is about trust.  Trust in a God even when we do not understand this God of ours.

The passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, the first – born.
Was this to be the cost of liberation from our slavery to sin?

We are reminded of the terrible price Egyptian and present – day parents pay for deliverance. We are reminded of the terrible price Jesus paid for our deliverance and that our freedom from sin was endured at the cost of another person’s great suffering.

“It is the Passover of the Lord!”

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