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Maundy Thursday

Romans 12:12

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (NIV)

Joyful in hope

It may seem odd to begin the Paschal Triduum, the three day observance from Maundy Thursday through Good Friday into the first light of Easter, with an injunction to be joyful – but as sobering as these days are, they are filled with wondrous light. Here is a God who comes to dwell among us. Here is the divine reality at the heart of the universe that wraps himself in a towel and washes the stink off his followers’ feet. Here is the heart of the cosmos that shares bread and wine with us. Here is the heartbeat of all existence that surrenders itself into the hands of evil men. This is a story of monumental love. This is a story of unbreakable fidelity. This is a witness to a divine reality that will not turn away from this troubled world, but will raise it from death to life – will raise us from whatever bondage into the fullness of the existence for which we were formed.

Joy and hope run deep in this story. And whatever sorrows afflict us as we witness human cruelty, God is not leaving the world where the bodies of children lie drowned on the seashore or limp in their father’s arms. God is not leaving the world where hunger emaciates while others feast. God is not leaving the world where the humanity of others is dismissed or denied. To use the old fashioned religious word, God is not leaving us in our sins.

So we are patient in affliction. We are faithful in prayer. Our hearts turn to this God who embraces a troubled world in joyful hope. Christ is betrayed but risen. Christ is spat upon but exalted. Christ is pierced but alive in our midst. And wherever kindness is shown to the least of these, Christ is present, the grave emptied and sin banished.