Friday, April 18, 2014

The Two Most Awkward Days of the Year

Everyone knows Easter is coming up this Sunday. Candy has been out in stores for months and plywood cutouts of bunnies have been in front yards for weeks. And yet we're not quite there...

Before we can get to Easter we have to pass through the days of the Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. They're important, very important! Without the Last Supper and the Crucifixion the Resurrection would have no significance. But they're very strange too, especially Good Friday (today) and Holy Saturday (tomorrow).

What makes them so strange and awkward?

The tabernacle is empty. There's no Jesus. It feels weird. What is usually a sacred space is reduced to just a fancy room. Out habits of reverence don't make sense.

A time unfulfilled - Good Friday: On the night of Holy Thursday Jesus is arrested after the last supper and taken to the Sanhedrin. Friday morning, well, he's still there, and there's nothing we can do about it. We know his trial and crucifixion is coming but it's not here yet. It's like a dreaded exam coming up. You know it's going to be terrible but you can't take it yet. You just have to wait for the inevitable. Finally there's the Good Friday service, the Passion happens. "It is finished." But you're not done. Easter isn't here.

A time unfulfilled - Holy Saturday: The worst is over but the victory hasn't come. What's happening? Nothing. And that's the worst part. It's just waiting, hoping for this to be over. It's at least a taste of what the followers of Jesus felt after the Crucifixion. "He said he would come back and we remember something about 3 days but, I mean, you saw how he was tortured! There's no way anyone could come back... Could he be who he said he was...?"

We know what happens whereas the first disciples did not but we can't help but feel somewhat the same way. And here's the important part: I think that's exactly the experience the Church wants us to have. The Triduum is supposed to feel this way, to feel strange and awkward, uncertain. But why put us through all this???*

Yes, it may be awkward and strange to focus so much on the seemingly bad things that happened before the glory of the Resurrection and it's likely to make us uncomfortable both physically (if we're fasting) and spiritually/psychologically but all that is to place that much greater of an emphasis on the victory of Easter.

The sacrifice of our comfort in these is not for the sake of sacrifice in-and-of-itself. That would be a waste. It is for the sake of having a more glorious Easter like an athlete who trains for the sake of a more glorious victory. Let us embrace what the Lord and the Church has seen fit to ask us to endure because in the end it will be that much better!

* - Also not helpful is when the weather is beautiful and joyful-feeling on a solemn, somber day like Good Friday. Everywhere should be Oregon on Good Friday and Southern California on Easter Sunday.

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