For Christians ,the most important week of the year is approaching, culminating in the Easter Triduum: the three days when we can relive Jesus’ passage from death to life. We asked Fr. Giampietro Baldo to help us live these holy days at this time of the pandemic. Fr. Giampietro is the parish priest of San Vito and of Maria Theotokos Shrine in Loppiano.
We will not be able to attend Holy Week services this year. That’s the bad news. But there is also good news: that Holy Week has not been abolished or postponed, but it will happen! How? The Vatican has given us guidelines. We will be able to follow the various ceremonies on TV or via internet connected with the respective parishes. I know that many will comment that it is a meager consolation. The truth is that this year we will have a particular Holy Week, because it is stamped on our skin, on our doubts, on our mourning. Last month was a feast, such as Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. We were living together and carefree, the world was running after a thousand illusions, whether they were true or not. But there was a virus entering our lungs, in our relationships, in civil and religious society. Even in Jesus’ time, there was the virus of envy, of incomprehension, of slander, which was destroying everything, even unity among the apostles themselves. In Holy Week we are called to enter this void, this virus, so as not to fall into the temptation of discouragement, but together to believe in the words of Jesus: “On the third day… I will change history“. This year we will relive Holy Week more in contact with Jesus, with his abandonment, his loneliness, the dream of the One who seemed to be shattered against humanity with so much evil. On Holy Thursday we will feel more like family because we are not only bound to each other, but Jesus himself binds us to himself and to each other. We will feel frailer with our dirty feet, but with the consciousness that Jesus himself washes them. At night we will feel that we cannot give answers to the situation we are living in, but we will feel that only in mutual love does Jesus revive hope among us. We will feel the weight of our betrayals towards God and our neighbors, but we will be sure that there is one who will forgive us 70 times 7 and then ask us: “Do you love me? We will be more aware of our loneliness, of the evil that is sometimes biting, but we will be in good company with Him who has conquered the world. Good Friday will be new because during these days we are getting to know more about death, about exhaustion, about silence, about a virus that looks no one in the face and for now is only a mystery. The climb to Calvary today is more concrete because it is shared. At times we are overwhelmed by the numbers of infected people and deaths that the radio and TV are spreading. But didn’t we ask with Chiara to carry the world in our arms? The world is not a beautiful globe, it is the land of today, marked by these plagues. We, on Good Friday, can bring all this pain with Jesus to find a solution in the heart of the Father, the only one who, being Creator, can understand what is incomprehensible to us. Holy Saturday is a day for questions. What’s going on? Is it all over? When will this trial end? On Holy Saturday there are tons of articles written and myriads of words spoken during these days. There are those who see the catastrophe, those who see the finger of God, positive or negative, who see the sin of man, who see destiny, who see nothing. And what do we say? How do we help each other? Do we run away like the disciples of Emmaus? Do we lock ourselves in the various cenacles? Do we seek light like the women? Do we weep with those who weep? On Holy Saturday, Jesus went down into the underworld. He explored all the human negativity and entered our nights. He knew every virus. What will tomorrow be like? When can we see each other again? How long will this Lent last, which from being a religious event has become a civil one? The third day is not tomorrow! It’s today! This is Easter: the reality of today. This year we are called to work miracles: to bring out light where there is darkness, to give hope even with a broken heart, to embrace each other with our heart because we are prevented from doing so with our hands, to bring life where there is the stench of death, to bear witness with our lives that Jesus has already risen. It will be the Risen One who will kill the virus and all its consequences. It will be us risen who will restore hope to this world marked by pain. What a responsibility! I wish, with all of you, that this would be our Easter Triduum. Let us prepare ourselves. Jesus will use us, as he used fragile men 2000 years ago, for a new spreading of hope. Best wishes!!!! Fr. Giampietro Baldo