(This entry will be different than my ‘usual style.’ My suggestion is to read and reflect using each section for the particular day of the Triduum, but you can reflect upon this as a whole, too.)
Entering into Holy Thursday means that we are to reflect upon what Jesus did that night. In the midst of the Passover meal, Jesus took off his outer garment and began to wash the feet of the apostles. It seemed like a strange act since this was the work of a servant, but He explained that this is what His followers are meant to do: we are to offer humble service throughout our lives. At this liturgy we observe the priest repeating this act, kissing the feet of each of the twelve who represent the faith community, just as Jesus must have done. This is a moving sight, because it is clearly a sign of the love of God present through the priest whose ordination is linked to the actions of Jesus. Jesus’ told the apostles that to lead means to serve by extending this love to others. As followers of Christ we are all called to respect others with similar reverence and tenderness. It is quite a challenge, but perhaps we can reflect upon the fact that Jesus washed the feet of Judas also, knowing full well what he was about to do.
But lest we get caught up in all the intensity of this, let us call to mind that Jesus died so that we can live. Let us never lose hope because there is a purpose for this: while we experience sorrow for how we have contributed to the sin of the world, it is His unfathomable love and mercy which is the gift He is giving. Our mixed emotions can be the catalyst for our growth in holiness. It is not about our worthiness to receive such a gift, but rather it is about the greatness of His love. His love is, and should always remain, our focus. That love is the entire point is exemplified in the church’s heartfelt prayers which take place after we hear the difficult Passion narrative of the Gospel. At that time we pray not only for ourselves as a Church, but we pray for unity among Christians, for our non-Christian brothers and sisters, for the leadership of our elected officials, and for all those who are suffering as a result of the brokenness and ongoing sin of the world. We pray so that we might be moved to action in word and deed as true followers of Christ, that we open our hearts to our brothers and sisters anew. God is there.
©Michele L. Catanese
* The lyrics to Ubi Caritas can be found at the following link: https://www.thoughtco.com/ubi-caritas-lyrics-and-translation-723653
Note: Next post on April 9.
1. I took this photo in Matatmata, New Zealand. It seemed to speak of the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
2. This painting is one of the works of Duccio Di Buoninsegna, called Washing of the Feet. (1308-11) I chose it because you can see the confusion of the apostles as well as the misunderstanding of Peter who is indicating that Jesus can wash his head, too. It can be found at http://www.ducciodibuoninsegna.org/Washing-Of-The-Feet-1308-11.html.
3. This is one of my photos which is intended to give a sense of the starkness of the night in which Jesus was in the Garden praying in agony. I chose it because it is mysterious, but also I intentionally did not want Jesus depicted. I wanted to heighten the sense of how incomprehensible His suffering was.
4. This is a painting called The Agony in the Garden by Paul Gaugan, (1889). I chose this particular painting because of the posture of Jesus. He is bent over with the weight of sin. I have never seen Jesus depicted with red hair and that also captivated me. It seemed to be symbolic of the blood He would shed. It can be found at https://www.art.com/products/p14499242006-sa-i6742546/paul-gauguin-the-agony-in-the-garden-1889.htm.
5. This icon is called Weep Not for Me Mother, by William Hart McNichols. I chose to use it here because it captures the awful intimacy of the shared pain of Mary and Jesus, mother and Son. It can be found at http://frbillmcnichols-sacredimages.com/featured/weep-not-for-me-mother-260-william-hart-mcnichols.html.
6. This painting is called The Dead Appear in the Temple After Resurrection by James Tissot. (1886-94) It can be found at https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4596.
7. This painting is called Nole Me Tangere, (Touch Me Not) painted by Fra Angelico. (1440-42) I chose it because it captures the moment when Mary Magdalene has recognized the Risen Jesus and attempts to hug Him, as only a dear friend would do when a loved one is near.
8. This is one of my photos taken in the gardens at Larnach Castle in Dunedin, New Zealand. I chose it because it "sings" of Easter joy.