The Three Days of the Passover
The three celebrations of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil constitute together one feast. That is why there is no formal end to the Holy Thursday Liturgy, or formal beginning or end to the Good Friday Liturgy, or formal beginning to the Easter Vigil. They are meant to run into each other.
The unity of these celebrations is indicated by some of the fundamental texts of the days. The entry verse for Holy Thursday is: “We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection; through him we are saved and made free.” This is the formal beginning of the three great days and as we can see from it, it is about the whole of the three celebrations: not only the Holy Thursday liturgy, but Christ’s death and resurrection as well.
The Holy Thursday celebration is an integral part of Jesus’ handing himself over and dedicating himself to what is to come that which we will celebrate on Good Friday and at Easter.
The gospel of Holy Thursday begins with the following words: “Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father, having loved those who were his own in the world, loved them to the end.”
This again reaches across all the three days of the celebration of his death and resurrection. But it homes in, in the first place, on his washing of his disciples’ feet. This action, in parallel to the Eucharist, puts into effect what the whole of Jesus’ death and resurrection means: it is all about the love he has come to pour into the world even to the point of becoming the equivalent of a slave or the lowest of servants to human beings. This action gives expression to the reason behind his death, that mysterious love of God for human beings which led him to lay down his life for them. Greater love than this, no one has.
By Fr Frank O’Loughlin
Thanks fr Frank for reminding us that the easter triduum is our celebration of the core of our faith: that out of his infinite love for us jesus died for us and rose again so that we too could follow him in the same way and rise with him