In the Triduum we have three very distinct parts of the life of Jesus that we need to focus on, if we push it all together we can lose sight of the importance so one or more aspects. So we keep them separate to maintain the importance of each part.
For example a funeral service is made up of three distinct parts, the Vigil, the Funeral Mass and the Internment. But often people want to try and put it all into one celebration. I had one family ask if we could just do all the prayers at the grave site. Another wanted everything at the funeral mass and no one would go to the grave site. Just like the Triduum each part plays an important role in the life of the people.
The Vigil service at the funeral reminds us of the life of the person and how they have touched us. The Holy Thursday service tells us of the gift Jesus has left us in his body and blood. Here these two services share a common theme and invites to know the person and to reflect on the intimacy of our relationship with them.
The Funeral Mass is about the promise made to us in baptism, that we will be raised up on the last day. The white garment reminds us that in death we are equals in the eyes of God for Jesus dies for all of us equally. The Good Friday service is the rememberance of how much God loves us and how he calls all of us to himself. That even though we are sinners, Gods mercy is greater.
The interment of the deceased is the letting go and moving forward in our lives. We know we have lost something, someone but we are called to move forward sharing the life of the person with others. At the Easter Vigil we also have closure, HE IS RISEN. His is not walking the earth with us anymore but he will come again but until he comes again we have been called to be His hands, His Feet, His voice to the world, we must move forward and share Him with the world.
Just like Jesus, when we leave someone in the ground we know that the Spirit is not there, it is with Jesus. We can go back to the tomb just like the early disciples, but he is not there He is Risen. We need tombs and graves they are our reminders that is why so many people go back to the Holy Land, to walk where Jesus walked, but in reality He is with us walking with us and we are the ones who make Him present.
Scripture tells us that where ever two or more are gathered in my name there I am in your midst. On Holy Thursday we celebrate also the institution of the Priesthood, we are called to remember that when we gather, no matter where we gather, if we gather in His name he will be with us, and if we are blessed to have a priest with us, through the priest and the Holy Spirit, Jesus will become truly present for us in the Eucharist.
When ever a family gets together and shares the stories of its deceased members, those people become present once more for us for they live on in memory. At the Eucharist we gather to share the story of God, but unlike the deceased family member who only comes back in memory, Jesus comes to in what looks like bread and wine but in reality is Jesus, body, blood, soul and divinity.
The next time you go to a funeral remember you are minor way living the Triduum.