Holy Saturday is the odd day of Holy Week. It is a day when seemingly nothing happened. The Gospels are largely silent about this day, the Sabbath Day whose coming pressured the faithful to rest Jesus’ body in the grave as quickly as they could. I do think that we know something about this day. It was likely a day of grieving. A heart stopped beating. He breathed his last. A son, a teacher and a friend died. The family and friends of Jesus were empty on this Holy of Saturdays. The realization that life as they knew it was over was overwhelming.
That Saturday was also a day of worship. “They saw the tomb where Jesus’ body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded.” Luke 23:55-56. So they went to church. . . and they waited. We can identify with their grieving and waiting – we too are grieving the loss of life as we knew it. Maybe normal will never return. We are also waiting for this COVID-19 pandemic to ease and for life to return to normal. We have a lot of trouble waiting for things. We are generally not very patient as people. We have fast food, drive up windows, and self-check out lines because we don’t want to wait. We can get in our cars and go anywhere, anytime; see who we want to see, when we want to see them.
It should not surprise us that waiting is the hardest part of faith. Yet waiting is an act of faith. We do not wait as the aimless whose restless hearts live in anxiety and fear. We wait upon the Lord. We know this Lord as the one who loved us that He gave His only-begotten Son who was born in our flesh and blood to suffer and die in our place upon the cross. We are not waiting for the unknown but for that which we know in the promise of Christ.
On this day the Church has historically welcomed new people to the faith through baptism and confirmation. The dark night of Holy Saturday gives way to the bright morning of Christ’s resurrection and this has been a symbolic moment rich in imagery and meaning for the newly baptized and confirmed. You might say that the whole life of the baptized is a life of waiting, of joyful expectation not complete until we close our eyes this side of glory and awaken them to see Jesus face to face. Some have recently lost loved ones and hopefully will be comforted by the thought of the fulfillment of the baptismal promise given to those loved ones so long ago. We think of our wait for the blest reunion with those who have gone before, who died in Christ. We think of the restless character of the soul searching for place and belonging that is not stilled or met until we rest in Christ. Yes, whether you like it or not, Christian life involves much waiting.
Easter is not a surprise ending for us but the ending we know and for which we hope. This day is sort of like the children waiting for Christmas morning to see what gifts were brought. We wait because we know there are gifts given, blessing awaiting us, and a future prepared. Such a wait is not drudgery even when it may seem long. It is how we anticipate in this life the promise of the life to come. So wait with me. . . what is to come is beyond imagination and far beyond our expectations — what God has prepared for those who love Him. And it all starts with an empty tomb. Shhhhhhh…. Easter is coming!