Thoughts on Holy Saturday
Hosea 5:15b-6:3 In their affliction, they shall look for me. Come, let us return to the Lord, For it is he who has torn, but he will heal us; he has struck down, but he will bind our wounds. He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise up, to live in his presence. Let us know, let us strive to know the Lord; as certain as the dawn is his coming. He will come to us like the rain, like spring rain that water the earth. Reflection Today is a day of opening. This may seem odd, as we keep vigil this day beside a tomb, sealed shut and marked with the finality of death. But the tomb we sit with is that of God-made-man, Jesus, Emmanuel. God-with-us. And we believe that his promises are true. That death, ultimate end of every human life, is not the end of him. That he will open this tomb and rise again.
We wait, even as he plumbs the depths of human death. Even as he opens the doors of death and stomps on them, beckoning to those lost in the shadows. Even as he opens the gates of heaven to the faithful departed, previously shut away in Sheol. Gregory of Nyssa said of this day, “Come, Let us see our Life lying in the tomb, to give life to those who lie dead in the tombs.” On this day, we dare to hope that he also confronts the death that each of us carry in our hearts—the many ways in which we fall short of the light and life of God. We are all mired in death and sin, but this is the day that Christ descends even into hell to transform death into life. He will descend into our lives as well, and transform us, open us.
We wait on the Lord who is waiting for us. He is ready to heal us and bind our wounds, to free us from the wages of death that weigh us down, and raise us to new life. We wait this day to shed our burdens and rejoice in the victory of our God, the victory that promises us that death is henceforth a puppet, a shadow figure without lasting power over to bind or destroy.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus touched the deaf and dumb man and opened his ears and his eyes with this word “ephphetha”. On this quiet, holy Saturday morning, our Elect will undergo an ephphetha, a rite of opening. They will be enjoined to “be opened” to the saving power of Christ.
This message is extended to all of us on this day of opening. As our Lord bursts free of all bindings and barriers, he calls us to open the gates of our hearts and lives. Be opened! Be opened on this day of waiting, opened to the mystery of a God who awaits us! Be opened to the coming of the Lord in our midst, in our very selves! Today, let us unfurl our hearts before the Lord like the petals of a flower before the sunrise. For tonight, we will celebrate the new and eternal dawn, the definitive rising of the Son of God, the Light of Life, who dispels all darkness and death.
Awake, O sleeper and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light!