Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
Last Sunday we gathered for the commemoration of Jesus’ solemn entry into Jerusalem. We all stood on the plaza in front of The Basilica and sang “Hosanna, Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Then we processed into the church while waving our palms. Once we were in our seats the mood shifted dramatically as we listened to the Passion Narrative and sang: “O Sacred Head Surrounded.”
After several quiet days we began the Sacred Triduum, the holiest three days of the year. The two central elements of the celebration on Holy Thursday are the Washing of the Feet and the Celebration of the Eucharist. We do both because Jesus commanded us to do so. In the Synoptic Gospels we are called to celebrate the Eucharist in memory of Him while the Gospel of John commands us to wash feet. The washing of the feet embodies our calling to serve one another as Christ did. The Celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice calls us to love one another, even unto death as Christ did.
On Good Friday our attention shifted to the cross: we adore the cross, we venerate the cross, we kiss the cross, we honor the cross because the cross is the instrument of our salvation. Because of his willingness to die for us, Jesus rose from the dead and thus forged our salvation. On Good Friday we ponder this mystery and recommit ourselves to following his example and take up our cross and even one another’s cross. The entire day was shrouded in solemn silence which was only broken during Tenebrae. After the one remaining candle which symbolizes Christ was carried out of church the church erupted in sustained noise. The organ roared while the people banged on their pews begging the light to return. And so it did..
Holy Saturday was also marked by silence, but the silence on this day is one filled with great anticipation. It is almost as if creation is holding its breath waiting for Christ to break the doors of hell and usher in the era of Salvation.
The Easter Fire and the Paschal Candle which were lit during the Easter Vigil that day symbolize that Christ is the Light of the World. All of us present, having lit our individual candles from the Christ Candle filled the darkened church with light, symbolizing that we are to share the light of Christ with the world! The bells which had been silent since Holy Thursday were rung announcing the Resurrection to the world. The cleansing water and fragrant oil used to make new Christians revived our baptismal enthusiasm. The desire and delight we saw in the eyes of those receiving communion for the first time reminded us of how privileged we are to share in the Body and Blood of Christ.
When it was all over many of us, spiritually sated with the richness of all these symbols lingered on the plaza in front of The Basilica, rejoicing in the sound of all our bells and proclaiming to one another: He is Risen. He is risen indeed!
That has been my song all night long and it is my song today. That is our song today. Let us proclaim it to one another and to the whole world. He is Risen. He is risen, indeed! He is Risen. He is risen, indeed! He is Risen. He is risen, indeed!