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What Now? (Holy Saturday)

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Lord of the Universe, is dead and laid in the tomb. Imagine that you are one of His disciples. Yesterday Jesus was beaten, scorned, and hung on a cross to die naked in front a crowd of those He came to save. And what did the disciples do? Many ran and hid, afraid for their lives. Indeed, all but John disappeared from the narratives as Jesus walked the lonely road to Calvary. They must have been terrified that what happened to Jesus would soon happen to them. Many would have left early on Saturday morning if it wasn’t the Sabbath. Above all else, the disciples must have been devastated. The man they had followed for three years, the one who they believed to be the son of God, was dead and buried.

Scripture doesn’t tell us much about what the apostles did on Holy Saturday. We know from Luke (23:56) that they rested according to the Sabbath. Did they go to the temple? If they did, they must have tried to remain inconspicuous. The voice of Jesus must have still been ringing in their ears when He said, “No slave is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you… they will do these things to you on account of my name” (John 15:20-21).

They must have felt lost. They must have thought to themselves, “What now?” Maybe the words of Peter came to mind. “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68). Imagine the quiet emptiness they must have felt. Imagine the feelings of abandonment. Imagine what it must have felt like to give three years of your life to a man and His mission, only to see Him die. Not only that but to know you just ran away; to know you valued your life so much more and you weren’t there to comfort Him. I’m sure Peter was not the only one who denied knowing Jesus that day.

We do know some things. We know that they returned to the upper room and stayed together. Indeed, on Easter Sunday, Jesus finds them together (Jn 20:19, 26). They were supporting and consoling one other. They must have been praying for a next step. We know Mary of Magdala was there. When she saw Jesus, it says she returned to the upper room to tell the apostles (Jn 20:1-2; Mt 27:7-8; Mk 16:7; Lk 24: 7-8).

We can also assume that Mary, Mother of Jesus, was with them since the Gospel of John says that John took her into his home (Jn 19:27). As they were all together, she must have been there too. Imagine the comfort Mary must have been to them. She had faith that surpassed all of them. She knew from the moment she gave her ‘yes’ to the angel (Lk 1:38) and from her encounter with Simeon in the temple those many years before (Lk 2:34-35), this day was coming. She was their mother now (Jn 19:26). Yes, she was mourning. Yes, she must have been in more pain than any of them, but she knew that her Son would come through. She believed.

So, on this day of contemplation, on this day of quiet desolation as our Lord rests in the tomb, let us seek comfort in the arms of our mother, Mary. She is a model of faith and patient perseverance. Ask Mary to dry our tears and provide support as we pray. May we allow ourselves to be buried in her embrace and allow her to bring us deeper into the Paschal Mystery. That way, when the bells ring tonight at the Easter Vigil, we can experience the joy of the Risen Lord as Mary, and the apostles did.

 

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About the Author

Perry Rihl

I love Thai food, old books, and stupid puns. I'm married to a beautiful, patient, and holy woman and I live and work as a youth minister in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. God allows me to lead worship and retreats all over the place and you can follow me on Twitter @dprihl.