As persons of free will we can accept or reject God’s offer of salvation. It is a timely topic to ponder as we have just finished the season of Lent and are now in the Easter season. Holy Week provides us with a recollection of salvation history from the Old and New Testaments and the high point of the Easter Triduum, the Easter Vigil liturgy does the same.
On Holy Thursday we recall the Israelites flight from Egypt and how God acted in that time to save His people and bring them out of slavery. We also look at Jesus’ final Passover meal and are given the gift of the Eucharist. Personally, though, the most moving part of the liturgy is the Washing of the Feet. Is it such a powerful reminder that Jesus came to serve and we are called to do the same.
On Good Friday, we replay Jesus’ final hours, meditate on His cross, and are thankful for His ultimate sacrifice which is our salvation.
Holy Saturday begins in hopeful anticipation when we light the Paschal candle and bless the water which will be used to baptize. We hear “Christ our Light” intoned as new light fills the darkened church and we respond, “Thanks be to God” as one by one the flame is passed until all the candles are lit and the people are bathed in the new Light of Christ. It is a visible reminder of all we have been given and also of what we are called to do. We must give others the light, Jesus, as He has been given to us.
The Old Testament readings remind us that God made us and tell how He acted in the lives of His people before He sent His Son. We listen to the stories of Abraham and Moses and recall the covenants God made with His people, calling them from slavery and bondage to a grace-filled life with Him. The Gospel reading finds us looking with the women for Jesus and celebrating when we hear he has risen. So now, we too can have new life in Christ through baptism, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit in confirmation, and celebrate the new Passover-the Eucharist-and remember that before Jesus died He left for us an eternal reminder of His life.
The Easter Triduum is an encapsulation of our salvation history played out in our own real time. Salvation history is not only the specific events which occurred in the past, but is also an event that is on-going in each of the lives of those who believe.
Each of us is called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Yes, each of us was included in the saving work Jesus gave us by dying on the cross, but now we must respond. We must accept or reject the offer.