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BEFORE THE CROSS | Holy Week brings together God’s patterns in salvation history and our lives

Events and words of the Old Testament are fulfilled through Jesus, and re-echoed in our lives

‘Do it again!” Children often say this when something delights them. It’s also God’s approach to salvation history, and the readings for Holy Week give several good examples.

This week we hear the episode of Abraham and Isaac, in which the beloved son carries the wood up the hill where he himself will be sacrificed. Then, we see Jesus do it again in His Passion.

This week we hear about the “Suffering Servant” from the prophet Isaiah: “But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” Then we see Jesus live these realities again in His Passion.

This week we hear about the Passover in which a lamb without blemish is sacrificed, its blood is sprinkled on God’s people to protect them and its flesh is eaten. Then we see Jesus live all these things again and bring them to fulfillment in His Passion.

Many events in salvation history foreshadow the life of Jesus. Many words in the prophets foretell what will befall Him. And then, after those events and words have been fulfilled in the life of Jesus, they’re re-echoed in our lives. The Israelites passed figuratively from death to life through the waters of the Red Sea. Jesus passed literally from death to life through the cross. Finally, we’re joined sacramentally to Jesus through the waters of baptism, so that we can die and rise with Him.

This is much more than a logical argument for the existence of God. This is the whole pattern of history pointing in the same direction. Much as a child delights in seeing something done again, God delights in writing patterns into history over and over so that we not only know that He exists, but know who He is and what He wants for us.

So Jesus institutes the Eucharist, and tells us: “Do this in remembrance of me.” In other words, do it again.

He washes the disciples’ feet, and tells them: “As I have done for you, you also should do.” In other words, do it again.

Our liturgical experience is like that, as well. The Triduum is an in depth experience of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ spread out over three days. It’s deep, and intense, and beautiful. When we’re finished with it, though slightly tired, we say: “Do it again!” And so we do: every Sunday, in a smaller way, we walk through the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. That’s why liturgists say that what the Triduum is to the year, each Sunday is to the week.

I encourage you, this week, to pay attention to the patterns God has written into history, the patterns He has written into your own life, and the opportunity to bring those things together in the liturgies of Holy Week, especially the Triduum. Allow yourself to experience God’s delight as we re-tell the events of salvation history, and you hear God say: “Do it again!”

BEFORE THE CROSS Holy Week brings together Gods patterns in salvation history and our lives 2

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