Love Is Key to Understanding Triduum, Pope Says

General Audience on Eve of Holy Thursday

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VATICAN CITY, APR. 11, 2001 ( John Paul II said the key to understanding the paschal Triduum that begins Holy Thursday is: «love to the end.»

«At the heart of this sacred Triduum is the mystery of an unbounded love, namely, the mystery of Christ who, ´having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end,´» the Pope said today, using the words of John the Evangelist at the start of the narration of the Passion.

At the traditional midweek audience with pilgrims, the Pontiff offered a personal meditation, in which he reviewed those 72 hours in which Christ would radically change human history.

The Pope began by recalling the events of that first Holy Thursday, in which Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, «eloquent sign of this total, free, generous love,» which «offers each one the joy of the presence of him who makes us also capable of loving, in imitation of him, ´to the end.´»

«Even today,» he said, «to love ´to the end´ means to be ready to face exhaustion and difficulty in the name of Christ. It means not to fear insults or persecutions, and to be ready to ´love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you.´»

The Holy Father then evoked the scene of the tragic Friday when Jesus was crucified on Calvary, «where we contemplate a love whose fulfillment is the gift of life. The cross is the clear sign of this mystery, but at the same time, and because of this, it becomes a symbol that challenges and disquiets consciences.»

«When we celebrate the Lord´s Passion next Friday, and take part in the Via Crucis, we will not be able to forget the force of this love that gives itself without measure,» the Pope said.

The Holy Father illustrated the way in which a Christian should live Holy Saturday, «in silent waiting for the encounter with the Risen One.»

Meditating on the central mystery of Christianity, «Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,» the Pope concluded, «we will be able to prepare better for the solemn Easter Vigil, when the shining light of the risen Christ will burst forth in the middle of the night.»

John Paul II is presiding over all the pontifical rites during Holy Week.

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