This afternoon and tomorrow evening without a doubt make up the most dramatic couple of days in the Church calendar. Everything that we’ve been working at over Lent: fasting and praying and perhaps doing other extra works of charity has been leading up to this moment. The exercise of our senses, the symbols in the shrouds over the statues and the ashes on our foreheads are typical of a sacramental faith – a faith that speaks to us body and spirit.
Just so, the exercise of the greatest act of love is Jesus’ giving up of his body and spirit on the Cross. The redemption that this all leads to is a redemption of all of creation’s fallen nature. Look forward to hearing in the Easter Vigil God declaring His creation to be good – both the matter He created but and also the meaning that He gave each thing. So Jesus’ sacrifice was necessarily not just a “dying spiritually” or metaphorically as some demythologizers would prefer. Nor was His resurrection merely a symbolic “resurrection in our hearts”, as we cannot summon a reality by our thoughts alone. The key belief of the Church is summed up this weekend – that the greatest act of love and to attain eternal life is to quite literally give it all away – body and spirit.
Thus today’s starkness is what the resultant emptiness looks like – an open and empty tabernacle, shrouded statues and images, sparse music at the liturgy that lacks any new consecration of hosts. For ourselves, our ability to similarly give of ourselves in love and life prepares us to follow and imitate that same goodness as situations may demand of us – no matter how violent or painful it may be. This isn’t empty masochism without the glory of the next evening. When the tomb is empty, tabernacle refilled, ultimate death destroyed, and the lilies hearken of the life and joy that refill the church’s building, we are reminded of just how good Good Friday was.
Have a blessed Triduum.