Holy Saturday: 'Make Sure He's Dead'
For many this is as true today as it was on the first Holy Saturday
Just as the Chief Priests and Pharisees gathered with Pilate to plan on keeping the tomb sealed and guarded with Christ inside, many today want to place a stone in the entrance of the Church, to keep him inside again. On Holy Saturday we remember that no matter how hard the world tries to keep Christ hidden, He bursts forth in resurrection glory through His Church.
I thought about that statement a lot after the service. It was not only the reason for the pierce of a lance but the tomb sealed and guarded.
The lance made sure that he was dead physically, as blood and water flowed from our savior's side; but he needed to remain dead in influence as well. The tomb was being closely watched that no one would steal the body and spread the rumor of a resurrection.
On Holy Saturday the world-without-Jesus thought it could now go back to life as normal. After three years of combating the ministry and miracles of this carpenter from Galilee, they could now return to a life they have defined for themselves. The Romans had taken care of a threat to Caesar's influence; the Sanhedrin has rid themselves of a threat to theirs.
Holy Saturday is the part of the Triduum that is observed mostly by an absence of attention. To those of us who believe, it is reminds us of the hopelessness that would permanently have inhabited the world, had not the savior risen from the dead.
On the first Holy Saturday, the Jews maintained their custom. In Scripture, Luke simply states, "On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment." (Luke 23:56b)
For the Romans, this was simply another day of activity. The streets of Jerusalem were quiet, as would be normally found, since it was the Sabbath. At the tomb, soldiers maintained their vigil near the stone with a Roman seal that blocked the entrance to the place where Jesus lay.
Their instructions were clear, anyone who attempted to take the body would be stopped at all costs.
It would seem that this is the world as many today would like it to be. Everyone simply going about their business in their own way, following whatever custom and tradition they personally embrace while the body of Christ remains buried.
They want Him to remain in the tomb where He can't do anything to mess up their way of life. They want Him silent and hidden. It makes their life easier; they can stay in control and not worry about such burdensome things as sin, righteousness and judgment.
The Congregation for the Divine Liturgy and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in their Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, states
"146. On Holy Saturday, the Church pauses at the Lord's tomb, meditating his Passion and Death, his descent into Hell, and, with prayer and fasting, awaits his resurrection
"Popular piety should not be impervious to the peculiar character of Holy Saturday. The festive customs and practices connected with this day, on which the celebration of the Lord's resurrection was once anticipated, should be reserved for the vigil and for Easter Sunday.
"The 'Ora della Madre'
"147. According to tradition, the entire body of the Church is represented in Mary: she is the "credentium collectio universa"(152). Thus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as she waits near the Lord's tomb, as she is represented in Christian tradition, is an icon of the Virgin Church keeping vigil at the tomb of her Spouse while awaiting the celebration of his resurrection.
"The pious exercise of the Ora di Maria is inspired by this intuition of the relationship between the Virgin Mary and the Church: while the body of her Son lays in the tomb and his soul has descended to the dead to announce liberation from the shadow of darkness to his ancestors, the Blessed Virgin Mary, foreshadowing and representing the Church, awaits, in faith, the victorious triumph of her Son over death."
Thus for the faithful, Holy Saturday is a day of waiting and preparing as Mary did near the tomb of her son. We remember that he is already at work, proclaiming the finished work during His descent to the dead. While Mary did not really know what would happen next, there was a sense of anticipation that there is more to come; a sense we need to keep with us today.
We can identify with her in our own waiting. However, we live on the other side of the empty tomb. We are readying ourselves for the shout of hope, "He is risen! He is risen! He is risen, indeed!"
We must remember this this Easter proclamation is not just for us in the privacy, within the walls of the church. This is a universal declaration. He died and rose again for the life of the world.
Before His ascension, our Lord commissioned His Church to proclaim this gospel to all nations. He sent the Holy Spirit to anoint and strengthen us for the task.
The world still wants us to be silent. Many may want to have him remain in the tomb. In our current day, they are working hard to roll a stone in front of the entrance to the Church and put a seal upon it, that Christ may be kept inside.
As Christians we need to remember that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work within us today! The stone cannot stay in place as his resurrection glory is released through His Body the Church on Easter.
This Easter let us burst forth with the joy and hope of the resurrection. Through our words and deeds, may we remind the world once more that He is alive! Because He lives, all have the hope and possibility of eternal life through the One who gave His life as a ransom for many.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- The Power of the Resurrection in our Lives: Christ Is Risen; Indeed, He Is Risen!
- What a Day! What a Way, the Easter Way, Alleluia!
- The Surprise of Easter
- Easter Vigil Homily of Pope Francis: Let the Risen Jesus Enter Your Life
- HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence
- The Resurrecting Power of Mercy
- On the Friday We Call Good, the Whole World Stands Still
- Good Friday Reflection on the Logic of the Cross
- Reflection: Let us Apply the Splint of the Cross to our Fractured Freedom
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
F. K. Bartels - Catholic Online, 4/6/2013
There is great cause for belief in the Resurrection. One of the most wonderful tenets of Catholicism and the true Christian religion the Church transmits, is that the Resurrection is a historical ...Continue Reading
Deacon Keith Fournier - Catholic Online, 4/1/2013
Have you have heard the old adage, used often in a disparaging way, He´s so heavenly he is no earthly good. I suggest again that it misses the mark completely. We are Easter people. We are called to ...Continue Reading
Fr. Randy Sly - Catholic Online, 3/31/2013
To make sure that all mankind knows that it is not over but actually just beginning, God has an Easter bombshell. While we may have been able to anticipate the wondrous joy of a day of resurrection, ...Continue Reading
Pope Francis - Catholic Online, 3/31/2013
Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness... and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! Let the risen Jesus enter ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »