In the final few days of Holy Week, Catholics should recognize that Christ’s love for them is shown by “the total gift of himself on the cross,” said Pope Benedict XVI.
“Let us allow ourselves to be touched by this love, to be transformed, so that the Resurrection may really be realized in us. I invite you, therefore, to live the paschal Triduum intensely, and I wish you all a holy Easter!” the Pope said on April 4.
The Pope made his remarks to 11,000-plus pilgrims who were gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience. He explained to them that from tomorrow afternoon onwards, “we enter the Easter Triduum, the summit of the liturgical year” that celebrates “the central mystery of faith: the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.”
Exploring the scriptural texts that will be used over those three days, the Pope explained how St. John’s Gospel describes those days in the life of Jesus as his “hour.”
“Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world, and he loved them to the end,” Pope Benedict said, quoting the passage fromJohn 13:1 in full.
“The whole life of Jesus is oriented towards this hour,” he noted, proposing that the whole historical episode is “characterized by two aspects that illuminate each other.”
The Pope described the first aspect in Christ’s hour as being a “passage” (“metabasis” in ancient Greek), while the second feature of his hour is Jesus’ “love until the end,” which is called “agape” in Greek.
“It is the divine love, the Holy Spirit of which Jesus is filled, which allows Jesus to ‘pass’ through the abyss of evil and death and sees him emerge into the new ‘space’ of the Resurrection,” he said.
And his hour is marked by “agape,” which “brings about this transformation” that allows Jesus to go “beyond the limits of the human condition marked by sin and overcomes the barrier that keeps man prisoner, separated from God and eternal life.”
The next four days will be among the busiest of the year for 84-year-old Pope Benedict.
Tomorrow morning he will celebrate the chrism Mass with the priests of the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:30am. He will then travel across the city for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at his cathedral church, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, at 5:30pm.
On Good Friday, the Pope will lead the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion in St. Peter’s at 5pm, followed by the Stations of the Cross in Rome’s Colosseum at 9:15pm.
On Holy Saturday evening, the Pope will preside over the Easter vigil, beginning at 9pm in St. Peter’s.
The Pope’s intense schedule will wrap up with 10:15am Mass on Easter Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, followed by his urbi et orbi message and blessing "to the city and world” at noon.