Today is Holy Thursday for western Christianity. Thus begins the most solemn period on the church calendar.
Holy Thursday, called Maundy Thursday in the Eastern Orthodox church, commemorates the Last Supper, the Passover seder Jesus shared with his closest followers shared the day before he was crucified. (Coincidentally this year, it just precedes the Jewish observance of Passover, which begins tomorrow evening.) Good Friday, tomorrow, commemorates the crucifixion and death af Jesus. The Easter liturgies of the Saturday vigil and all Sunday liturgies celebrate the resurrection. So in the span of just a few days, we go from remembering the lowest time in Jesus’ life to the highest, a sort of theological roller coaster.
I admit to having been less than disciplined during this Lenten season. I didn’t give up anything, didn’t go to extra masses (and even missed Sundays on occasion), and wasn’t even especially careful about meatless Fridays. I do more some years than others. But Holy Thursday always focuses me on what I call the home stretch to Easter. Like the story of the workers in the vineyard who all got the same wages no matter what time of day they showed up, I figure God will cut me some slack for being a little late.
This day also reminds me of the death of my the man I think of as my former future father-in-law, who died on Holy Thursday 28 years ago. I suspect that God doesn’t mind that, either.