Saturday, April 3, 2021
Reflection by Ashley Logsdon
Holy Saturday is an uncomfortable, in-between sort of day. We are nearing the end of a long Lenten journey, having fasted and prayed for several weeks. We eagerly anticipate tomorrow’s celebration of Easter, ready to rejoice with the risen Jesus (and also feast on the M&Ms, caffeine, or television that we’ve been denying ourselves all Lent). But Holy Saturday itself is a pretty awkward day.
Holy Saturday doesn’t even get its own Mass. Rather, tonight we celebrate the Easter Vigil, which the Church calls “the greatest and most noble of all solemnities.” At this Mass, we gather to hear the scriptural story of salvation history, to welcome new Christians into the Church, and to keep watch for the Lord’s resurrection. But all of this liturgical excitement won’t begin until after sundown on Holy Saturday – what are we supposed to do in the meantime?
Tonight’s Gospel passage gives us a clue. In the preceding verse, two of the ubiquitous Marys sit watching Jesus’ closed tomb on Friday evening (Mark 15:47). Then, “when the sabbath was over,” a different set of Marys plus Salome arrive with spices, intending to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1). In the unwritten space between these two verses, the Jewish people have gone home and celebrated the sabbath: ordinary life continued. What emotions might Jesus’ disciples have felt as they tried to go about daily life on that awkward Saturday: shock, grief, disappointment, fear, discouragement, hope?
Our experience of Holy Saturday is not dissimilar. We are impatient with asceticism and sorrowful after a week of Passion remembrances; at the same time, we know that it’s still too early to start our Easter rejoicing. In these awkward, uncomfortable hours before sundown, we are stuck with having to live out ordinary life in that unwritten space between mourning and a miracle.
As you pray on this Holy Saturday, we invite you to reflect on this transition. As you look back on your Lent, are there regrets, wounds, or struggles that you still need to bring to the Lord? Is your heart ready to rejoice tomorrow morning? Let us pray for the grace to persevere in joy and to live as reenergized disciples throughout (and beyond) the Easter season.