As we continue towards and long for Easter, we find ourselves in the middle. In the awkward space between Friday and Sunday.
And while this day for me is filled with various tasks related to tomorrow's festivities, I also wonder if it might offer more. I wonder if entering the story again, with Jesus' disciples, with those who experienced that first Saturday, might actually help us engage the essence of Easter in a more complete way. In a way that will re-frame not only Sunday and the liberation of Easter, but also the days that follow.
And so, with that in mind, here are two voices to consider:
"The more eloquently the Gospels describe the passion of the living Jesus, his death and burial, the more striking is their entirely understandable silence when it comes to the time in between his placing in the grave and the event of the Resurrection. We are grateful to them for this. Death calls for this silence, not only by reason of the mourning of the survivors but, even more, because of what we know of the dwelling and condition of the dead... That Jesus was really dead, because he became a man as we are, a son of Adam, and that therefore, despite what one can sometimes read in certain theological works, he did not use the so-called 'brief' time of his death for all manner of 'activities' in the world beyond - this is the first point we must consider. In that same way that, upon earth, he was in solidarity with the living, so, in the tomb, he is in solidarity with the dead."
- Hans Urs von Balthasar, Mysterium Paschale: The Mystery Of Easter
"Most of our lives are spent in Holy Saturday. In other words, most of our days are not filled with the unbearable pain of a Good Friday. Nor are they suffused with the unbelievable joy of an Easter. Some days are indeed times of great pain and some are of great joy, but most are…in between.
Most of our days are, in fact, times of waiting, as the disciples waited during Holy Saturday. We are waiting. Waiting to get into a good school. Waiting to meet the right person. Waiting to get pregnant. Waiting to get a job. Waiting for a diagnosis from the doctor. Waiting for things at work to improve. Waiting for the results of our physical therapy to help us feel better. Waiting for a relationship to improve. Waiting for life just to get... better.
There is, for example, the wait of despair. Here we know—at least we think we know—that things could never get better, that God could never do anything with our situations. Nothing will, or could, ever change.
This may be the kind of waiting that forced the fearful disciples to hide behind closed doors on Holy Saturday, cowering in terror. Of course, they could be forgiven. After Jesus was executed they were probably in danger of being rounded up and executed by the Roman authorities.
Then there is the wait of passivity, as if everything were up to "fate." In this waiting, there is no despair, but not much anticipation of anything good either. It is the wait of "Whatever."
We are called to the wait of the Christian, which is called hope. It is an active waiting; it knows that, even in the worst of situations, even in the darkest times, God is powerfully at work, even if we cannot see it clearly right now. The disciples’ fear after Good Friday was understandable. But we, who know how the story turned out, who know that Jesus will rise from the dead, who know that God is with us, who know that nothing is impossible for God, are called to wait in faithful hope. And to look carefully for signs of the new life that are always right around the corner—to look, just like a few of the disciples were doing on Holy Saturday.
Because change is always possible, renewal is always waiting, and hope is never dead."
James Martin, America Magazine: The Jesuit Review