I am writing this the week before Passion/Palm Sunday and the Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. Every year I pray for a full Church on Holy Thursday, the night we recall the great gift of that First Eucharist as well as the challenge to wash feet.
As always, we begin Holy Thursday with morning prayer at 9am and then fill the next three days with many opportunities to pray and enter into the death and rising of the Lord Jesus. Try and come to something. If you cannot, put time aside to pay attention to the Lord. If in addition to Easter Mass, you can only come to one event, make it Holy Thursday night at 7pm. There you will meet the people who are at the heart of the parish and we will indeed wash feet (Not to worry, it is voluntary!)
I also recommend the Easter vigil where we will baptize three men and receive another into the Church and seal it with his Confirmation. It is long, but well worth the time, and do remember that on Holy Saturday there is no 4:30pm Mass. The only Mass is the Easter vigil that starts with the bon fire outside the Church doors.
Most of you will not get to hear it, but at the Easter vigil the Gospel to be read is Luke’s version of what happened on that most famous first day of the week. It is a story about an empty tomb and men dressed in white who repeat to the grieving woman what Jesus, who is not there in the tomb, so often said to them. “The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” It is now the third day, and the women have not really believed his words. But soon they, and others, will meet the Risen Jesus. He will appear to them not as a ghost but in a transformed body that can dine with them and be recognized in familiar actions. That Risen Jesus will send them His Spirit. In John, it happens on Easter itself, in Luke on Pentecost. Once the Spirit is given, the words about suffering, death, and resurrection make great sense and those first disciples are renewed, emboldened, and filled with new life. Something new has broken into the world and life will never be the same.
Over the years the community of the Risen Christ, which is to say the Body of Christ, in which you and I participate because of our Baptism, has gone through periods of turmoil that surely should have destroyed us. But Jesus promised to be with us always. He has. Now we enter into what I hope will be a new promising future. “See I am doing something new? Do you not perceive?” Lord, deepen our Faith, Hope, and Love. Make us into the community to which your Son calls us.
May you all experience the joy of Easter. May your faith in the Risen Jesus be deepened. May you feel newness breaking into your life. Amen, Alleluia!