Lent has come to an end; it ends when the Mass on Holy Thursday begins and we enter into these three holy days (“Triduum”), which are the summit of the Liturgical Year, unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. The Triduum begins with the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper and ends with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday.
The number 40 always signifies a preparation period, and the 40 days of Lent have been a preparation for us to enter into these holy days and also a preparation for our own participation in Christ’s mission in the world.
On Good Friday, we are invited to look deeply into the Passion and Death of Jesus, to look at his final Word, his final Gifts, his final Suffering. We must look at his suffering face, which should lead us to his suffering Heart; we must look at him, and not look away! In the agony of Jesus we really see that the enemy is real, that sin is real, that the wages of sin is death, and that our redemption comes at great cost. God redeems us, not by patting us on the head and telling us it’s all fine, but by taking on the whole mess of us – our sinfulness, our brokenness, our pain, our sorrow, our loss, our fear, and our aloneness – and lifting it up on the Cross. And as the Israelites in the desert had to look up to the serpent to be saved from its poisonous venom, we are directed to “look on him whom we have pierced,” to be saved from the certain death which is the result of our sin.
We look up to Christ nailed, immobile, suffering, suffocating, surrendering, pouring himself out, offering himself fully to the Father, so that we might be saved. “The collapse of the opened Heart is the content of the Easter mystery” (BXVI). He is betrayed for our betrayal, scourged for our sins of the flesh, crowned for our pride, bearing the weight of our sin to free us of the burden, crucified to show us what Love looks like. Love takes on suffering for the sake of others, without counting the cost. Love sees first the good of the other. On the Cross, Jesus was thinking of you and me, and he was willing to bear the whole horrific humiliation and execution so that we might be with him in the joy and glory of the Father. Forever.
The 40 days of Lent prepare us for these great Three Days, which lead us through this Suffering of Love to the silence of Holy Saturday, and then through an empty tomb to the Octave (8 days) of celebrating the Resurrection – liturgically, Easter Sunday is eight full days, through and including Divine Mercy Sunday, the culmination of Easter Day. Today, we look on the suffering and pierced Heart of Jesus; on Divine Mercy Sunday, we celebrate the outpouring of mercy through that very Heart!
Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com
Feature Image Credit: Policraticus, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/10564-miada-cristo-cruz