April 20, 2019 (readings)
- Holy Saturday
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 meditation is taken from the Gospel reading for Easter Sunday at the Easter Vigil.
At daybreak on the first day of the week the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day." And they remembered his words. Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.
Introductory Prayer: Heavenly Father, I contemplate the tomb of your Son who has loved us to the end. In the silence of this Holy Saturday, I meditate and prepare myself for the Resurrection. I come to you in quiet, expectant prayer, patiently awaiting the new dawn of Easter, knowing that what seems like defeat is the victory of life. Help me to grasp the magnitude of your death and resurrection.
Petition: Jesus, grant me the grace to understand in a deeper way the glory of your resurrection.
1. A Day with Mary: Much has happened in the last few days. The Sabbath dawns serenely, quietly. Today is a day to wait quietly with Mary, to meditate slowly with her, to go to a lonely place and contemplate the Lord’s death while holding her hand. Holy Saturday is a day to take it all in. It is a day of sorrow and of hope. We must not let Holy Saturday pass by as just another day, as just the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is a day of quiet contemplation with the Mother of God.
2. The Other Side of the Resurrection: From our vantage point, it’s easy to forget that for the apostles and the disciples of the Lord, all seemed over. Jesus was dead. There was something powerfully definitive about that “It is finished” Jesus had pronounced from the cross. They would no more hear his voice, feel the power of his preaching, or see the marvels of his works. For them there was no resurrection, only passion and death. The women were preparing everything to finish the task of anointing Jesus’ dead body. We must contemplate this day from the other side of the Resurrection.
3. Prayer Gives us the Answers to Life: Only in this silent contemplation will the apostles be able to see how it all fits together. Jesus had told them all that would happen to him, including his resurrection. Jesus had spoken plainly to them, yet their minds were not prepared to understand. It is only in the silence of this day, accompanied by Mary, that they could hope to understand what Jesus had told them. It is the same for us; we must remember Christ’s words with Mary because oftentimes our minds too are closed. Many times we think we know who Jesus is and what he is teaching us, but really it doesn’t enter our heart. We must listen carefully to what he tells us in the Gospels so as to comprehend the deeper meaning of his words. We must do this with Mary and allow her to help us.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, the silence of this day helps me to ponder in my heart all you have accomplished for me during the past few days. I know that the silence of Holy Saturday is not a silence of despair and hopelessness, but rather a silence of great expectation ready to burst forth in the overwhelming joy of Easter. I will go to the tomb with the holy women, not to anoint your dead body, but to rejoice with the angels as they proclaim, “He is not here. He has risen!”
Resolution: I will try to keep as much prayerful silence as I am able today to prepare well for the joy of Easter.
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