“In this Sacrament, Jesus replaced the sacrificial victim -- the Paschal lamb -- with Himself. His Body and Blood give us salvation from the slavery of sin and death. Salvation from all slavery is found there,” the pope said at his general audience.
Jesus on the cross entered into “the abyss of suffering … these calamities of this world, to redeem and transform,” he said. “And also to free each of us from the power of darkness, from pride, from the resistance to being loved by God.”
“Because the world is in darkness. Let’s make a list of all the wars that are being fought right now, of all children who are dying of hunger, children who have no education, of entire peoples destroyed by wars, by terrorism. Of the many, many people who need medicine to feel a little better, the pharmaceutical industry that kills -- it is a calamity, a desert,” Francis said.
The pope added that because “Jesus took upon himself the wounds of humanity and death itself, God’s love has irrigated these deserts of ours, he has enlightened our darkness.”
For nearly a year, Pope Francis has dedicated his weekly Wednesday audiences to reflections on prayer. During Holy Week, the pope looked ahead to the liturgies of the Paschal Triduum, three days of prayer beginning on Holy Thursday and ending on Easter Sunday.
Pope Francis explained that during the Triduum “we will experience the central days of the liturgical year, celebrating the mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord.”
“On the evening of Holy Thursday, as we enter the Easter Triduum, we will relive what happened at the Last Supper -- what happened there at that moment -- in the Mass known as ‘in Coena Domini.’ It is the evening when Christ left his disciples the testament of his love in the Eucharist, not as a remembrance, but as a memorial of his everlasting presence,” he said.
“It is the evening in which he asks us to love each other by making us servants of one another, as he did by washing the feet of the disciples -- a gesture that anticipates the bloody oblation on the cross. And indeed the Master and Lord will die the next day to purify not the feet, but the hearts and the entire life of his disciples. It was an offering of service to all of us, because with that service of his sacrifice, he redeemed us all,” he added.
Good Friday, the pope explained, is a day of penance, fasting, and prayer.
“Through the texts of Sacred Scripture and liturgical prayers, we will be gathered on Calvary to commemorate the Passion and redemptive Death of Jesus Christ. In the intensity of the rite of liturgical action, we will be presented with the Crucifix to adore,” he said.