Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Tonight we begin the three day feast of the Triduum that takes us to our roots and causes us to ponder who we are, where we have come from and, most importantly, why we stay. The stories we will hear in the readings from these days are familiar but can still hold an excitement and depth of meaning if we allow them to really penetrate us to the core. They provide a sense of continuity and connection as well as, if accepted, challenge and confrontation. Most of all, these scriptures, should lead to a deep, inner reflection, which can cause us to own or possibly even reject, who we claim to be.
We have been through the waters of Baptism and have been united with Christ in his death and resurrection. These are wonderful images and reassuring promises but in listening to the scriptures and especially the parts about washing feet, accepting imposed suffering without resistance or defense, each of us must wonder if we would be willing to not just wash feet but possibly even provide more intimate care for those debilitated or unable to care for themselves. And more importantly, would we be willing to humbly, graciously and gratefully accept such care when our age and or physical condition makes dependence a necessity? Are we REALLY who we claim to be?
The reading tonight from Paul begins with "I received from the Lord what I passed on to you…" Yet we know that Paul never met Jesus of Nazareth in the flesh. What Paul received from the Lord came through the community of disciples of which he became a part. Our faith has come to us through countless generations of Christians, some of whom may have experienced faith as a relationship with the Lord and others whose faith was fundamentally rooted in family or culture or national identity. All of these from whom we have descended claimed in some way to be connected to the Lord. Are we REALLY connected to the Lord, or do we have loyalties, even if to the Church, which more deeply anchor our identities?
Finally, why do we stay? The Church today is far from ideal and certainly not an unblemished expression of the Gospel. Nor is any parish or religious community or even family a pure example of unwavering discipleship. The challenge of these High Holy Days is great and may be a cause for deep personal honesty. Are we REALLY who we claim to be?
Cathy Anthony is on the staff of St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.