NO REST FOR THE WEARY
These days we use every euphemism to avoid saying someone has died or is dead and buried. “Passed away” or, now, “passed” (I predict, quite soon, with the continued shortening of this sentiment, it will be just “p”), “departed,” “in a better place” (are you sure?), “pushing up daisies” (to lighten things up), and, of course, “laid to rest” (I am reminded here of this Jerry Seinfeld bit).
As it pertains to Our Lord, it seems to me the latter is not the case in His instance. We say in the Apostles’ Creed, after confessing Jesus’ burial, that “he descended into hell” (better: “the abode of the dead”). If anyone deserved a rest after at least three years of challenging (to put it mildly) public ministry, culminating in brutal torture and death, it was Christ. But, no rest for the weary. Jesus used His time in the tomb to announce to all of the Old Testament saints the Good News, including that the gates of heaven would be open in a few hours and those longing for the Father would soon see Him face to face. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”: “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.” Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.
634 “The gospel was preached even to the dead.” The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfilment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.
So, I imagine that Jesus, far from desiring rest, was eager to convey the imminent completion of the mission given to Him by His Father (“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit…[i]t was for this purpose that I came to this hour.” — Jn 12:24, 27b). I do not want to say that this day should not be a time of mourning, but let it not stop there for us. And it isn’t simply anticipation of the breaking dawn of Easter, either. The Gospel is being shared even this day. Like Jesus, we must not rest, until we rest in the bosom of the Lord. But, even then, God willing, let us hope to emulate the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux who desired only “to spend my heaven doing good on earth.”
ABOUT HOLY SATURDAY
Two reflections on Holy Saturday that landed in my inbox today. gratefully, and a third that appeared in the NY Post yesterday that is very relevant. I read the first and last but have not listened to the second (yet), although with its guests it is sure to be a home run.
- “The Icon of Holy Saturday” by Benedict XVI
- “Jesus, Holy Saturday, and the Descent into Hell” with Brant Pitre and Michael Barber
- “Lessons from the Incarnation in the Days of COVID-19” by Robert Barron
ST. RICHARD OF CHICHESTER
Trying not to miss a chance to laud one of my saintly namesakes, this medieval man was a bishop to be emulated. His feast day is today. Read more about him here.
From the prayer card on my desk:
Glorious St. Richard, you are an outstanding example of Divine Love and Faith. Your greatest pleasure was in rendering service to others, and your charity to the poor commands great admiration. Intercede for us that we may persevere in Faith and Love and become sharers of your heavenly glory. St. Richard, Pray for Us! Amen.
I gave up on football several years ago, basketball more recently, but have clung to my true love, baseball. It looks like that’s over, too. It is a sad state of affairs.