Holbein Dead Christ

After the crucifixion on Good Friday, Jesus of course was dead. The disciples hastened to find a place for the body after the deposition from the cross on which he died. Christ now silent was laid to rest in a tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea. At the moment of Christ’s death scripture recalls that darkness covered the land. Presumably after the events at Calvary, silence also enveloped the land as the mournful Apostles set off in various directions to mourn the death of the rabbi they loved so much.

The silence of Christ in the tomb is significant because it reflects the sorrowful events that occur after anyone dies and is buried. Family and friends are in a state of emotional shock regarding the fact that one they loved has died. The silence that pervasively controls all of us as we reflect on the events of Good Friday is reflective of human hopes and dreams, shattered by the harsh reality of death on the cross.

Holy Saturday is effectively a day for the Church and the entire people of God to depressurize and deeply consider all of the events that accelerated Christ’s death and indeed how great the sacrifice Christ made in his dying. Christ’s silence in the tomb is therapeutic for his faithful followers, seemingly believing that their faith was in vain, the message of Christ silent and the future of the disciples tenuous.

However, God the Father has another plan in mind. As the Universal Church is deafened by the silence of Christ’s repose in the tomb, the power of the Father is at work. We cannot feel it, we cannot see it and there is no expectation of what is soon to occur, but the Father is there with Jesus.

Holy Saturday is a day of contradictions. With the death of Christ, we are catapulted into despair, sorrow and contemplative disbelief that the Son of God is dead. On the other hand, the power of the Holy Spirit and the Father’s unending love and mercy are emerging from our meditative sorrow and preparing a different outcome to what the disciples believed was the finality of death. In silence, the power of the Father prepares to raise Jesus from the dead and in doing so will transform the entire world for the rest of time.

Silence is also anticipation because the reposition of Christ in the tomb is a vehicle used by the authors of the Gospels to increase our anticipation of the events that will unfold on Easter morning. Silence builds into the great victory we joyfully call the Resurrection, which will forever transform the nature of death from the grim reality of human finality to a nature of hope, which anticipates eternal life after temporal death, with God our merciful Father.

While the events of the Paschal Mystery ever unfold to all of us, faithful believers in the victory of life over death because of the actions of Christ we too are silent on Holy Saturday because the Easter transformation is yet to come. But we hope. We anticipate. Tonight the Church will celebrate the most solemn liturgy she has to offer, the Easter Vigil. Church bells will ring, candles will illuminate the world’s churches and resounding throughout all of them will be the great, “Alleluia, the Lord is risen, risen as he said!”

The silence of Christ in the tomb is broken, all of salvation history is redeemed and restored by the power of the Father and Jesus is risen from the dead!

Listen to the silence of Holy Saturday, in it you can hear the power of the Father as we prepare to experience the deafening realities of the Resurrection.

He is risen from the dead, Alleluia, Alleluia!


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