Holy Saturday….Lest We Forget

Good Friday and then Easter!

But a day is missing in that story. To move from Friday to Sunday we must walk through Saturday.

Saturday, however, is a lonely day. Death has won. Hope is lost. Jesus of Nazareth lies in a tomb. His disciples are afraid, hiding, and deeply depressed. Everything they had invested in for the past three years seems pointless now.  They forsook their Master; they lost faith in that moment. They are leaderless, hopeless, and aimless.

Holy Saturday is the day we sit by the grave. It is the day to feel the gloom of the grave, to face the reality of death itself. It is a day to weep, fast and mourn. The late second century church (e.g., Irenaeus) fasted from all food on this day because it was a day of mourning. They did not break the fast till Easter morning.

Those of us who have spent time at graves–in my case the grave of a parent, wife and child–understand this grief, the despair of the grave. I have spent much of my life running away from graves, and have rarely spent much time thinking about Holy Saturday.

It is much easier to skip from Friday to Easter than to dwell on Holy Saturday. It is like, as happened in my life, skipping grief as much as possible. It is easier to run from grief. We prefer to escape it rather than face it.

Holy Saturday reminds me to grieve, to lament. It reminds me to rail against death, the enemy of both God and humanity. It reminds to protest death and renew my hatred for it. It reminds to feel again and sit with the disciples in their despair.

Indeed, to sit with the disciples in their despair is to sit with humanity in the face of death. When we sit at the grave we recognize our powerlessness. We cannot reverse death; we cannot defeat this enemy. Holy Saturday creates a yearning for Easter. We need Easter for without it we are dead.

Today (Friday) we remember the death, tomorrow we sit at the grave, but on Sunday we are renewed by the hope of the resurrection.

Jesus walked that path and we follow him.  We, too, will have our Friday, one day we will be entombed in a grave, and–by the grace and mercy of God–on that great day we will rise again to walk with Jesus upon the new heaven and new earth.

That is the meaning of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter.

4 Responses to “Holy Saturday….Lest We Forget”

  1.   Clark Coleman Says:

    We should also look at the despair of the apostles on Holy Saturday and find inspiration. As many Christian apologists have noted through the centuries, what explains the transformation of those forlorn disciples into evangelists and martyrs, other than the resurrection of our Lord? The contrast between the disciples of Holy Saturday and the apostles of the remainder of the New Testament record is one of our most powerful witnesses to Christ.

  2.   Jerry Cornelson Says:

    thanks, John Mark.
    thoughtful words.
    4Him, Jerry

  3.   Steve Kell Says:

    JM: per your insightful comments, I recall similarly reflecting on the importance of Saturday some 11 years ago as I journaled: “Matt 28:1 ‘After the Sabboth…’, after a day of absolute quietness (no earthquake!), mourning, hopelessness; after the settling realization of denial and defection and wondering if the past 3+ years were simply a disappointing delusion; after all this, two ladies–who in the midst of such horrific loss and sadness–did what they knew only to do (they rested on the Sabboth per the law of God (Lk 23:55-56/or as my sister said…they did the next right thing), these ladies went to an empty tomb on Sunday morning. And it changed their lives–and mine–forever.” Sometimes in the vacuous quietness of God and chaos, I need to be reminded to simply do the next right thing…and rest in God.

  4.   longwalker76 Says:

    Holy Saturday is indeed very important. I came to appreciate it more through reading Von Balthasar. I really liked his books “Mysterium Paschale” and “Heart of the World”–both of which deal with the Saturday aspects of the passion. God bless you for a very moving post.


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