JESUS SLEEPS, BUT NO REST FOR THE WEARY
With Our Lord in the tomb, and everyone (save His mother, no doubt) believing this to be His permanent residence, I am reminded of Jesus’ own words to another group mourning the death of a loved one:
The girl is not dead but sleeping.MT 9:24
And another time with threats all around Him:
I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.Jn 10:17b-18a
Jesus was ridiculed for the first statement and nearly stoned to death shortly after exclaiming the second. Just these two instances, never mind the many other raisings, healings, and exorcisms recorded (plus the undoubtedly countless that were not), in addition to the many proclamations of His ultimate fate from His own lips, should have been more than enough to make Jesus’ closest collaborators wait joyfully for their Master’s imminent return after His ignominious death.
Yet, we only see fear and cowardice from the apostles and mourning from the women coming to the tomb. Were they not paying attention all those days and nights with him week in and week out for three years? After escaping death several times, did they think He just ran out of luck? No miracles left in His repertoire?
Nevertheless, Jesus was pretty busy in those thirty-six hours or so in the tomb. We confess in the Apostles Creed that “He descended into Hell.” I encourage you to read the seven short paragraphs in the Catechism on this matter and to look up all the Bible passages referenced therein to realize the biblical warrant for this claim. These are not found directly in the Passion narratives, but elsewhere. The most prominent:
What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended into the lower [regions] of the earth? The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.Eph 4:9-10
Jesus had a human soul and thus, as is the way for all of us eventually, when He breathed His last that soul left His Body and went to the abode of the dead (Sheol, not the hell of the damned). There He proclaimed the good news to all the saints that came before and freed them for heaven.
In His life, His ministry, His suffering, and even His death, Jesus would not be deterred in the mission given to Him by the Father. Eventually, the apostles and many other followers of His day and all the days up to the present, through the power of the Holy Spirit, were to courageously follow in His footsteps. Let us be counted in that number who stayed faithful until the end.
It is good to make Holy Saturday a day of increased silence, remembering Jesus’ entombment two thousand years ago and ours yet to come. Jesus was prepared, so must we be. Meanwhile, will we live and preach the Gospel “in season and out” until our dying breath as Our Savior did? Will even our time in the grave be used to help others to eternal bliss? Let us have the attitude of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower:
I wish to spend my heaven in doing good upon the earth.
(And, I would add, any time in purgatory as well.)
BENEDICT AT 95
Pope Emeritus Benedict continues to break records as he today achieved 95 full years on earth, longer than any other pope. In 1927, April 16 also fell on the day after Good Friday. He writes:
To be sure, it was not Easter Sunday but Holy Saturday, but, the more I reflect on it, the more this seems fitting for the nature of our human life: we are still awaiting Easter; we are not yet standing in the full light but walking toward it full of trust.Joseph cardinal Ratzinger. Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977 (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1977), 8.
This great man is now very frail, and I suspect he will not have to wait long to “stand in the full light.” But as long as the good Lord wills to leave him with us, we will be happy to have him.
Do yourself a favor and read about his life (the new two volume tome [one and two] is magnificent) and read his work, most popular among the myriad titles being the Jesus of Nazareth trilogy he wrote while occupying the chair of Peter.
While you’re waiting for those books, check out this fine article from today on Benedict and the pope emeritus’s own reflections on Holy Saturday.
ODDS AND ENDS
A heart-wrenching story told splendidly by a woman born in the 1880’s about a woman she knew born near the turn of the 19th century. Worth twenty minutes of your time, particularly in our cancel culture.
Per my “clever” title to this post, my favorite Chicago song: https://youtu.be/HjylD7esXDo