Friday, 25 March 2016

Thoughts from the Chaplain - the Lord's Supper

On Thursday, we celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and with this celebration Lent ends and we enter into the Sacred Triduum, the climax of the time we have spent since Ash Wednesday preparing ourselves through prayer, fasting and charity or almsgiving.  Last Sunday we joined Jesus as he entered into Jerusalem, the city of David amid the cries of Hosanna, welcome is he who comes in the name of the Lord and processing over a carpet of clothes and palms strew in his path.  By the end of the evening of the Last Supper the cries of joy and adulation will have changed to those of derision.  Judas will have left his fellow disciples and returned to the high priest to earn his thirty pieces of silver; he will show a band of temple guards where Jesus is to be found and he will point out the Son of God by a kiss.  So quickly, can public opinion change.

The Sacred Triduum or three days is often thought of as three separate events: the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday and the crucifixion and the Mass of the Resurrection in the Easter vigil.  But to separate them like this is to miss a major point.  All three days are the Sacred Triduum and belong together.  They are a story which takes it’s beginning from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem or to go even further they begin with the reception of the cross of ashes on our foreheads six weeks previously.  But, let’s stay with the Sacred Triduum;   these three days are of course sequential but they are more than that.  They are three events which follow on one from the other and are also so intimately related that they are dependent upon each other.  The Last Supper is the setting for the institution of the Eucharist and is also the point in time when He reveals that one of His disciples is to be the person who will betray Him and hand Him over to the temple authorities; the one to whom I give the piece of bread that I shall dip in this bowl – he dips the bread and gives it to Judas Iscariot; Judas leaves and night falls.  The night is the time of his arrest and ends with interrogation by the temple authorities as Simon Peter, having denied Jesus three times, leaves the temple courtyard into the new morning of the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.