by Chaplain Leonard Gavin
Princeton Baptist Medical Center
The final three days of Holy Week, from the evening of Maundy Thursday through Easter Sunday are called the Triduum. It is pronounced (TRIH-doo-um) and is a Latin word meaning three days. During these three days the Church commemorates these events:
- the death of Christ,
- the burial of Christ,
- and the rising of Christ.
It is on these three days that we follow Jesus from the cross to the tomb to life again.
The Death of Christ
On Good Friday, Jesus endures being whipped, beaten and spit upon on the way to the cross. At Golgotha he is nailed to the cross. We ponder on the six hours he hung on the cross, on the two criminals that hung beside him and the seven last words he spoke. There he is suffering and dying for our sins.
“They have pierced my hands and feet … they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (Psalm22:16-18)
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34a)
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
The Burial of Christ
At sunset on Good Friday (day two of the Triduum begins), after suffering a death usually reserved for criminals, Jesus was taken down from the cross and buried in a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea.
They made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death (Isaiah 53:9)
Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them [Nicodemus and Joseph] wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:40-43)
The Rising of Christ
As the sun sets on Saturday, the final day of the Triduum begins. We remember from our reading of the Gospel of Mark that Jesus told His disciples three different times about the saving news that He would die and rise again in three days.
“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he [Jesus] said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:33-34)
As the sun rises this morning, why do we look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!
But when they looked up, they saw that the stone which was very large had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” (Mark 16:4-6)
We celebrate the return of our Lord from the grave with great joy and shouts of “Alleluia!” Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia – He has risen! He has risen indeed!
Let Us Pray
Abba, Father, You showed Your love among us by sending Your one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. As we now share in Jesus’ resurrection life, we begin to realize how great is the love You have lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God. Help each of us to love one another, not in word only, but in deed and truth. Empower us through Your Holy Spirit to proclaim the message of forgiveness of sin and the call to be reconciled to God throughout the earth. Amen