Jesus…laid aside his garments…and began to wash the disciples feet. – John 13:3-5
Today marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum, or the three days that mark the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord. These mark the end of the Lenten season and are the summit of the Liturgical Year. In the eyes of the Church, these three days are the climax of the year that mark a “new age of Resurrection” and launches us into the 50 Day Season of Easter that then climaxes with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Sounds like a big deal, right?
Yet, in America, (at least in all the places I’ve lived), the world doesn’t seem to take much notice. Especially in stark contrast to Christmas where store shelves start getting stocked for the season (largely secular décor, of course, but nonetheless they are getting ready) in early October. And many people decorate inside and out to prepare for the celebration of the coming of our Lord (or for the coming of Santa, but again, at least the secular, too, is getting ready for something). But what about Easter? Maybe an aisle or two dedicated to cute bunny or egg décor, and an overload of candy-stocked aisles, but those are quickly whisked away once Easter Sunday has ended. While most stores are closed on Christmas, many remain open on Easter. Yet, this is the single-event in history from which we have established our calendar (A.D. and B.C., which are also quickly becoming out of vogue), and it is through the Christian Tradition that even our secular holidays originated (Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day).
So, it struck me today, as I read the Scriptures of our Lord preparing to wash the feet of his disciples, the line that reads, “Jesus…laid aside his garments…” that I needed to “lay aside” something, too. Jesus’ action and these garments, are symbolic of his human life. In other words, Jesus “laid aside” his life to serve those closest to him, and only when finished serving the others does he “take” his life up again.
And I wondered what will I do differently to mark this day?
Of course, one thing will be to attend the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper. But how else might I “lay aside” some of the other aspects of my every day life today and in the days to come?
One of my friends who does much of her business on Facebook posted beautifully today that, “For Holy Week, I will refrain from business posts through Sunday, when we celebrate a big ole spectacular Easter morning!!!”
She is certainly “laying down her garments” to mark this sacred event.
Then another thought came to me. An image shared by a pastor who serves at a nearby convent. This convent is cloistered, so the sisters inside it have little to no communication with the outside world. (I asked him once, “Is it like ‘The Sound of Music?’ and he smiled and said, “Pretty close,” if that helps you imagine it, too.) Anyway, this pastor is one of the few people who has the privilege of seeing the routine day-to-day life of these nuns. Yet, he said that each day, when the bells ring indicating it is time for prayer, no matter what they are doing (washing the floor, raking leaves, etc.) they drop everything about their ordinary lives and run to prayer.
They drop everything and run to spend undivided time with Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but to me, when it comes to “laying down the garments” of my ordinary life, stopping in the middle of what I’m doing throughout my day today and giving my undivided time to Jesus seems like a pretty good start.
Whether I do that by abstaining from parts of my work life like my friend, or by dropping everything and running to prayer hardly matters.
What matters is that these next three days look different, and my ordinary life gets “laid aside”…
Ding! Dong! Ding!
Reflect: How can you “lay down” your garments and spend undivided time with Jesus over these sacred three days? What “garments” in your life are getting in the way of spending time with Jesus? Or spending time serving those you love? Looking ahead to next year, what is one thing you could do differently about your home to “elevate” the significance of the Lenten season and these sacred days?
Pray: Lord, thank you laying aside your life every moment of every day to serve even my smallest needs and desires. Help me to remember that the least I can do is take some time in the days ahead to spend solely with you. Help me to hear what you want me most to hear. Help me to see what you want me to see. Help me to love those who are hardest to love. Transform me so that when I do “take up” my life after spending time with you, I have become more like you. Amen.