On Holy Tuesday morning, we hear in the reading from the Gospel according to St Matthew: ‘Now Jesus said to His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified” (Mat 26:2).
What is the significance of Christ suffering His Passion during the great Jewish festival of the Passover? St John Chrysostom explains how the remembrance of the Passover, and the deliverance of the Israelites from Pharaoh and the Egyptians, is an ancient type which was fulfilled in the Crucifixion of Christ.
Christ reminds His disciples of the upcoming feast to bring to their mind the miraculous exodus of the Israelites from Egypt through the Red Sea, the coming of freedom unhoped for, where only death was expected. In the same way His Passion would become for them and for all of humanity, in the words of St Chrysostom, ‘a deliverance from countless evils’. He drives away the disciple’s fear of temporary evils by the promise of eternal blessings. He reveals the mystery of the coming days, ‘the feast and celebration that is being kept for the salvation of the world’ and He also shows them that He is approaching His Passion out of His own free will.
‘Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”’ (Mat 26:17). Jesus initiates the mystery of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, while also keeping the tradition of the Jewish feast, to indicate that until the last day, He is not opposed to the law.
“Do this in remembrance of Me” (Lk 22:19). At the Last Supper, Jesus shows His disciples that the feast of the Passover is to be kept throughout the ages; however He transforms the feast into a spiritual feast, into the mystery of our deliverance from the things of this world into the eternal Kingdom.
Source: April-May 2015 Lychnos Edition