Several years ago—a lot longer than I want to admit–one of my favorite authors, Phillip Yancy, jolted my thinking about Holy Week, and Holy Saturday in particular. He wrote:
I remember stopping to think about Yancy’s pre-Easter reflection. I wondered at the time: If we are truly caught up in the Saturday of the Easter saga, what does that mean? Those who celebrate the Passion Week narrative can experience tremendous spiritual and emotional ups and downs. We undulate between joy and sorrow—from the triumphal entry to Jesus’ dangerous teaching in Jerusalem, from the bittersweet Maundy Thursday to the horrors of Good Friday to the surprise and victory of Easter Sunday.
But what about Saturday? I tried to dredge up the memories that I have of the last 70 years of Saturdays that I’ve lived between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. What was I thinking or doing? How was I acting? How and what did I feel? Did I grieve? Or was it just business as usual? How much did I think about the day? Interestingly, except for a few Saturdays when I went to an Easter Vigil Celebration, I don’t think that I’ve known what to think, feel or do. I must admit that a lot of Holy Saturdays were taken up with stuffing plastic easter eggs with goodies in preparation for the “hunt” or pre-preparations for the Easter meal or when I was in the parish, putting the final touches on the Easter sermon.
In my moments of reflection based on Yancy’s quote, I opened my Bible. The gospels of Mark and John say nothing about Saturday. Their accounts skip from the burial of Jesus directly to the resurrection story. The day between seems a void, much like the mourner feels as the horror of death seeps in. The writer of Luke recounts that the women who were present at the burial went home and rested. They persevered in the ordinary tasks and returned to old routines. The disciple’s whereabouts are unclear. Some believe that eventually found their way to one another as they scattered in panic and confusion. But one can only wonder what they were up to…was it guilt, desperation, loss, anger, fear or dread? Only Mathew reveals any real activity and that was on the part of the chief priest and Pharisees who went to Pilate with conjured up fears and wild stories that convinced Pilate to seal the tomb and post a guard.
With these stories and with further reflection, it seems to me that Holy Saturday represents the normal, the mundane, the ordinary, the tasks as usual, the business at hand or just waiting for what’s next. For those of us, who post-resurrection, live in the Saturdays of life, it’s a time of waiting, perhaps, because we know that the resurrection is the expected sequel, “between the promise and the fulfillment.” After all, it was after Saturday—early in the next morning that Jesus who met the women, the disciples, and later, the two on the way to Emmaus. He was the one who talked and walked with them once again–each person in their journey of Easter. So—we wait—in our Saturdays for the fulfillment of God’s promises—enduring the days in between—for God’s promised victory.
A blessed Holy Week!