Liturgical note: There is no liturgy for Holy Saturday. Christian tradition has the Church waiting at the Lord’s tomb, meditating on his suffering and death. Today’s reflection is not taken from any particular Gospel passage.
Introductory Prayer and Petition: Heavenly Father, I contemplate the tomb of your Son who has loved us to the end, and in his sacrifice I see the reflection of your Fatherly love, your will not to condemn us but to save us even at this great price. And I ask you to enlighten my faith in those times in my life when all seems dark and difficult, and to grant me the hope then to look forward to the Resurrection I do not yet see…, for you are my Father and you give life, not death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you.
1. A Day of Desolation for the Apostles. Jesus cried out from the Cross: It is finished! It was a cry of victory meaning that everything he had been given to do was done, the reign of Satan was broken, man had been redeemed. But it seems to have had another, unwanted, meaning for the apostles and disciples. The young men from Emmaus, on the way home to pick up the strands for their life said, We had hoped he would be the one to redeem Israel. Their dream was finished, their hopes shattered. The women spent Saturday getting ready the spices to give Jesus a definitive and respectful burial once the Sabbath was over; then they would also be able to say, It’s done. We can only imagine the torment that day for Peter, his own denial still ringing in his ears, with nothing he could do about it. Nowhere do we find a spark of hope. Everything was in the past, all Jesus’ actions, miracles, teachings; the times around the fire at night on their journeys and the times they spent together, just the thirteen of them…, over, gone, never to be again.
It is a day to ask ourselves, what would my life be without Jesus if he were dead, if he were not real, if he were not really present in the Eucharist? What would I hope in? Would all the other things be enough to give me meaning to my life? What would I think about death? And to ask ourselves if our dark, black times are not really because I have forgotten about him?
2. A Day of Prayer with Mary. We can only imagine what a day this was for Mary. Her heart was surely still torn with her Son’s sufferings she had witnessed the day before, yet undoubtedly she understood the victory in Jesus’ last cry from the Cross, and therefore she waited in hope. It is also surely no coincidence that John, who had “taken her into his own” at the foot of the Cross, was the first and only apostle to believe without actually seeing the risen Christ—he himself tells us that when he stepped into the tomb behind Peter and saw the wrappings, he believed. He had spent that Sabbath after Jesus’ death with Mary, and she had begun her work as our Mother, reaching out to the young apostle that Jesus loved, sharing with him her faith and her hope, preparing him for the moment of grace.
Today is a day to accompany Mary, and to appreciate the gift Jesus has given us in her. It is also a day to examine how docile my life is to her guidance. Do I hear her reminding me, Do whatever He says? Today is a day to think with her about the direction my life is taking, about where God has placed me, the gifts he has given me, what he expects of me. And to listen without fear, full of hope, knowing that all things are possible to God.
Conversation: (Let us speak with our Lord about the mystery of his Death, and the hope his Resurrection brings. Let us speak with him about our dark times, our disappointments and our trials in order to let him remind us that in permitting them he wants to draw us closer to himself. Let us remind ourselves to look for the new life he wants to give us with every small death to ourselves that he asks of us. And let us do this with Mary, Mother of Hope.)
1. Do I appreciate the gift Jesus has given me of his presence in the Eucharist? Is there anything he has been telling me that I have misunderstood?
2. Does Mary occupy an important enough place in my life? Do I let her lead me?