The Triduum, the three days of Holy Week that are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are the heart of Holy Week.
It all begins with Palm Sunday, and the seeming joy of the crowds who welcome Jesus into Jerusalem, waving the branches off the trees, and shouting Hosanna to the Son of David. Soon it went sour and Jesus gave himself to the events that led from the Last Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane, the trials, scourging, crowning with thorns, the way of the cross, the crucifixion and desolation of feeling forsaken by God. God raised him up on Easter Sunday; God vindicated his only Son in whom he is well pleased because through His Love, he showed each person the power of Godly Love and reconciled this world to Himself.
The important point is that Jesus, in our human nature, shared his Divine Love with us, and has reconciled this world to himself by all that happened to Him. We identify with Him in baptism and then in responding to his Love with our repeated choice of Him, the same pattern emerges in my life when I follow Jesus as his disciple. On Maundy Thursday he gave us himself, the bread of Life; he gave his Apostles the command to do what he did in his memory; and he gave them his own new commandment.
We/I feed on the bread of life at the eucharist, the Mass. We/I are able in Jesus who identifies himself with us and with me, to love each other, and we/I belong to the Church in which the successors of the Apostles pass on the eucharist, and baptism and the other sacraments to us; the height of his gift is himself, the bread of life, and the bread of the Word of God.
We/I will share with Jesus in his sufferings, and like Him we/I may well feel lost and deserted by God from time to time in many different ways. In fact the sufferings that come my way help me to enter into the mystery of God’s Love, when with the power of His Love in me I can continue to trust, to believe in God and to continue loving others. We/I can then truly say with St. Paul “It is no longer I who live, but He who lives in me!”
By God’s grace, his gift to us/me in the Body of Christ, in ways that are beyond understanding, is that we/I will find the life of the Risen One in me and among us. It all depends on how I live my life, how much we/I can die to self so that by dying, the new Life is born in me and among us.
Paradoxically this mysterious New Life of Jesus in me/us is closely linked to the evil of sin in this world, the evil of sin in me. Recently I heard of a recovering alcoholic who exclaimed his thanks God for his healthy fear of the evils of alcohol and of other evils in his life. It is that fear, close to the fear and awe of God, that realistically keeps him rooted in the gift of his inner freedom that he has by the Higher Power that enables him to keep off the bottle and away from the evils of his own sinful addictions. We/I are all recovering from some form of egoistical addictive behaviour by God’s mysterious grace, and the power of recovery comes from those events in Jesus’ life, celebrated in Holy Week in which we/I are taken up through the events of life. that we/I live today.
This is why we speak of the Joy of the Gospel. We/I have it in the heart. May he keep us all firm to persevere in the calling God has bestowed on each as disciples of Jesus.