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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Saturday’

This is a post about the three days of Easter weekend. I’m a little late to talk about Good Friday, and a little early to talk about Easter Sunday, so perhaps this is the perfect time to take all three days together (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself). Man of Sorrows

“Man lorenzetti” by Pietro Lorenzetti – Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Man_lorenzetti.jpg#/media/File:Man_lorenzetti.jpg

Good Friday

What exactly is so good about Good Friday? Surely this must be sarcasm…we couldn’t possibly look at the day on which Jesus Christ was mocked, spit upon, hit, whipped, impaled through the head with a crown of thorns, crushed under the weight of a cross, nailed to that cross, and thereby condemned to an unspeakably painful, humiliating, and dehumanizing public death, and call it anything but horrible, right?

As always, context is important. Let’s look at two examinations conducted alongside Christ’s Passion. Herod's Temple“Jerus-n4i” by Juan R. Cuadra – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jerus-n4i.jpg#/media/File:Jerus-n4i.jpg

The first occurred in the Jerusalem Temple. It was the Feast of Passover, and the priests were examining the sacrificial lamb to ensure that it was “without blemish,” as Mosaic Law required (cf. Ex. 12:5). What-is-truth02“What-is-truth02” by Nikolai Ge – http://www.picture.art-catalog.ru/picture.php?id_picture=7515. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:What-is-truth02.jpg#/media/File:What-is-truth02.jpg

Meanwhile, Pontius Pilate carefully interrogated Christ, and found no guilt in Him. Though he did not know it, Pilate was performing a similar function to that of the Temple priests: He was examining the true Lamb, and was to find Him truly without fault; the latter made Him fit for sacrifice on the Cross, even while His innocence made Him undeserving of death.

What do we see in the bloody animal sacrifices of the Old Testament? Essentially, we see the ugliness of sin and the painful, difficult work required for our redemption. And in the Mystery of the Passion and Death of Our Lord, which fulfills all sacrifices, we see the ugliness of sin and the pain of redemption in the most brutally unadulterated light…right alongside the unfathomable depth of Divine Mercy.

On Good Friday, God Himself entered personally into the heart of our darkness and dysfunction, bringing light even into the darkest of places and, as the Liturgy tells us, “fashioning a remedy out of death itself.” Rather than orchestrating our salvation from a safe distance, He entered into our pain and sorrows right along with us, and even bore the burden of our guilt upon His innocent shoulders so that we might be justified.

That is what’s so good about Good Friday. Holy Saturday

“Cristo yacente Gregorio Fernandez”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 es via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cristo_yacente_Gregorio_Fernandez.jpg#/media/File:Cristo_yacente_Gregorio_Fernandez.jpg

Holy Saturday

Okay – now we get to a more timely reflection. Today, we commemorate the day on which Jesus Christ rested in the tomb. He was laid in the tomb immediately after the crucifixion, and remained there all the next day.

That “next day” was the Sabbath, and according to Scripture it “was a solemn one” (John 19:31).

Though separated from His human soul, Christ’s body (along with His soul) remained united to His Divine Person. Therefore, it can truly be said that God Himself rested in the earth; and therefore, in turn, it can also truly be said that He rested in His creation on the Sabbath (cf. Gen. 2: 2-3).

Hence we have the definitive fulfillment of the Sabbath Rest of the first creation.

And while those still on earth had to wait another day, Christ came as deliverer to the souls of the righteous who had gone before Him. Going into Abraham’s Bosom in His human soul, he delivered all those great souls who had awaited His Coming for years, decades, centuries, and even millennia. It only makes sense that they should receive the benefits of the redemption first, even while Christ’s victory remained hidden from the world. Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700

“Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700” by Noël Coypel – http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/Noel-Coypel/The-Resurrection-Of-Christ,-1700.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700.jpg#/media/File:Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700.jpg

Easter Sunday

Now we come to the day of the great Victory, the day on which Christ was raised from the dead in the fullness of His Divinity and humanity, having definitively conquered death. Not only was He raised from the dead, but He was raised to immortality.

That is why today we observe the Lord’s Day on Sunday (the first day of the week) rather than on Saturday (the last day of the week). With the Resurrection, Christ inaugurated the new creation. Since the Resurrection, the Kingdom of God has been gradually breaking into history, into the world of time and space.

Easter Sunday (that is, the first one) was truly the greatest day in history, and that by far. Let that fact not be lost on us. Just as we should always be careful not to lose sight of the proverbial forest for the trees, on Easter we should take great care not to lose sight of the Resurrection for the Easter eggs.

And that’s all I have to say. Happy Easter, all!

Images from Wikipedia

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Holy Saturday

Today is the day Jesus Christ, having died in the flesh, descends into the realm of the dead to free the just who went before Him in expectation of their promised redemption.  With that in mind, I wanted to share an ancient homily by an anonymous author:

What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son.

The Lord goes into them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: “My Lord be with you all.” And Christ in reply says to Adam: “And with your spirit.” And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.”

Image from Wikipedia

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