Tomorrow is Holy Thursday.
Again, I was raised Catholic. My lifelong LDS husband isn't as familiar with this day so I enjoyed explaining some beautiful things to him.
It is no accident that the culmination of Jesus' earthly life came at the high Jewish holiday of Passover. Initially it was instituted to remember when the angel of death "passed over" the homes of the Jews while it took the first born of the Egyptians, even Pharoah's son, prior to the Exodus. It's dramatically played out in the movie The Ten Commandments. Good stuff. To celebrate Passover, orthodox Jews offer a clean, unblemished lamb to God and eat it all night along with other foods that have special meaning for them.
On this last night of the Savior's mortal ministry, he washed the apostles feet and he ate the Passover dinner with them. This was the Last Supper. It was the fulfillment of the Mosaic law demanding blood sacrifice. His was to be the final blood sacrifice, he was the Lamb of God offering himself for us. In place of the Passover dinner, was instituted what we now call The Sacrament. We were no longer required to give a blood sacrifice, Jesus had done that for us. We were now called up on to live the higher law and to take his name upon us.
Following this Passover meal, Jesus proceeded to the Garden of Gethsemane to complete the required atonement for us. These hours passed for him in agony and isolation, even from Heavenly Father, whose Spirit had always been with Him. He had never experienced the Spirit's withdrawal from Him.
In my journey with my husband, my most common emotion is loneliness.
Often my husband is just incapable of keeping up with the necessities and requirements of life. He is so broken from his 30 years of addiction and the consequences thereof that I am not so much a companion and helpmeet, but am instead the one who presides in our home. I pay the bills and fill out the paperwork and keep the schedule and know where the extra toothpaste is. I schedule the doctors appointments and the repairman appointments. I have covenanted to hearken to my husband, but I am not even given the opportunity to keep that covenant. I give instruction and guidance to his child who lives with us, I insist on chores being done (please stop shoving the trash further down and take it out!) and say no to spending money that we just don't have. I am a caregiver and essentially the head of the household. I babysit the computer usage and I take care of my husband when his blood sugar drops from his diabetes. I feel like I'm always "on". Something always requires my attention and I share my home with two people who are essentially very self-involved or unaware. It's tiring to feel like I'm the only one paying attention to life.
But I am in the best of company. My Savior, my exemplar, has not only experienced feelings of loneliness and abandonment at the loss of his Father's presence, to an exponentially greater degree than I ever will , but as part of that experience, he felt my loneliness. My emptiness and my fear and hopelessness. It was actually that very process of experiencing my pain, that brought on His pain!
Holy Thursday for me has a solemnity. I treasure it. I think of the garden and sleeping apostles who were asked to watch and pray and on this greatest of nights, could not do so. I think of the betrayal by a friend. I think of the prayer uttered to let this cup pass, and I think of the greatest answer ever given to any prayer - "no, this cup cannot pass". It puts my trials in perspective. It helps me to see my husband with empathetic and loving eyes, as my Savior sees me. It shows me that sometimes we have to drink from the bitter cup and that sometimes someone we love will betray us. It helps me to want to watch and pray knowing that my plea for relief may well receive the answer "no...". It inspires me to wait patiently while someone I love endures something so very painful, and some of it he simply must endure alone while I wait nearby.
I recommend this powerful talk by Jeffry R. Holland during this Holy Week, and any other time you might feel lonely.