Holy Saturday Reflection 4
This reflection is from Tom Wright, ‘Lent for Everyone – Year C’, pp111-112
50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God.
52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
Where would you have been that day?
Hiding in a back room, somewhere, afraid to go out in case the authorities got you as well?
Leaving the city, to weep, wail, perhaps to return to family, because everything you had hoped for, had come crashing to the ground?
Sitting in your home, in a state of shock, unable to move or speak or think. Or pray…
Holy Saturday, the moment when darkness has descended and there is nothing to make you think – ”It will be all right.” It won’t. It can’t be. The worst has occurred and nothing will ever be the same. That is how it feels.
Perhaps in this past week, or past year, you have known a moment like that – when someone you loved has died, or when some other great tragedy has swept over you. Then, in that pain, you have a greater insight into what Jesus’ followers felt that Saturday, than perhaps many of us ever can.
Nobody – the women, Joseph, Pilate, the disciples – were saying to themselves: ”Well, its alright, because in three days he will rise again as he said.”
The disciples had been expecting Jesus to bring in God’s kingdom, and never in their imaginations would that have involved him being crucified by the ruling authorities, dying like many Jews had before under the actions of Rome.
But we see, some people, acting perhaps out of the habits of their hearts, knew that something still had to be done.
Not the Eleven.
Perhaps unexpected if we are honest.
Imagine Joseph’s home on Friday evening.
”Its nearly Sabbath” says his wife. ”Yes”, he says, ”but someone has to do it.”
”Do what?’ she says. ”Are you crazy? You’ll get yourself thrown off Council if not worse. Anyway the body will eaten by dogs before you know it.”
”Exactly” he says. ”That is why someone needs to bury it. Now.”
”But where?” She says.
”In our tomb, of course.” he replies.
”Our tomb?” she says. ”But, that’s meant for you and me!”
”Not now, it isn’t.” He replies. ”And anyway, I’d rather we shared it with him.”
And off he goes. Pilate has had quite a lot to drink since his strange morning encounter with that very strange would-be king of the Jews. He is mulling over his wife’s warning, that very morning of the decision, of a dream she had, that declared the man was righteous. And he wonders if he gave into the crowd or not.
Joseph asks. Pilate is only too ready to grant the request.
Two or three others – including Mary Magdalene – women who had followed Jesus through his ministry. They know what they have to do as well. Or, rather they know the first bit of what they have to do. As sun begins to set, they make their plans, when they will visit early the next morning, and what spices will be taken. They do not care who knows that they will do what they will do.
They little think that, as the day comes to an end, in being faithful in this apparent small, beautiful thing, that they are being prepared to be faithful in a much much larger thing, a much greater and more thrilling task, that any human has ever been given before.
Pause to Consider
Have we been busy or had any moments of stillness this day? Many churches are still and bare, their sanctuaries empty. Yet others are a hive of activity as children’s workers, flower arrangers and cleaners work hard to make Easter Sunday the best ever.
If we have not yet found time to be still today – absolutely still – then in the rest of this day, take some time. Imagine Mary Magdalene, Joanna and the other women, imagine the Eleven, imagine what it must have meant to have to say, over and over again, ”Jesus is dead.”
Pray – for yourself
To invite God, to enable us to faithful in the small things that we can see need doing. We cannot tell what God will then do.
Witness – looking outward
Who are the unexpected people God tends to use? The ones we would not have expected to show such goodness or sacrifice? Can we be an unexpected person of small beautiful things?
Prayer for the evening
Grant, O Lord,
that as we are baptized into the death of thy blessed Son
our Saviour Jesus Christ,
so by continually mortifying our corrupt affections
we may be buried with him;
and that through the grave and gate of death
we may pass to our joyful resurrection;
for his merits, who died and was buried and rose again for us,
thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.