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Holy Saturday: Paula Mc Keown (Living Church)


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From Living Church Down and Connor

After the trauma of Good Friday – we have the silence of Holy Saturday. An eerie and tormenting silence as people try to make sense of what has just happened. There is no rest, no calm, no peace but shock, trauma, and sorrow in considering all that has happened. Holy Saturday is a day to take stock of all that has occurred.

All who were present on Good Friday are now faced with disturbing memories that occupy every waking moment.

The leaders of the day - central figures who willingly entered into a theatre of false claims, jibes, deceit, and bribery sit on Holy Saturday with the reality that they approved the killing of an innocent man. Their power- hungry decisions are at odds with the death of one who advocated for the service of the poor and vulnerable.

The people who witnessed all the events of Good Friday would be reassessing their actions – did they get carried away with the hysteria of the crowds, the fake news, or perhaps they were people of compassion and tenderness; heroes of the hour? Veronica tending to Jesus in his pain. Simon of Cyrene shouldering the burden of the cross. Their heroic and generous actions would bring great consolation on Holy Saturday knowing that in a time of devastation they did what they could.

We think of the companions of Jesus. Some companions would be tormented that they could not be there at the end – they would spend Holy Saturday crippled by guilt and looking back to other encounters to find peace. John and Mary Magdalene were there right to the end and on Holy Saturday would be replaying those final moments savouring the final words spoken to them.

On Holy Saturday the compassionate centurion had finished his relentless shift. His restrictive uniform is cast to the side as he recalls standing helpless at the side watching the final breath sigh out from a lifeless body. He knew the sanctity of the life before him but could do little else but watch in the final moments.

Joseph of Arimathea brought dignity to the grieving family, negotiating to ensure a burial could happen and maintaining for the grieving family the traditions and rituals of their faith. On Holy Saturday Joseph would know that he gave generously and would be thankful for the small comfort he could bring in the midst of searing loss.

Mary: Jesus’ mother. The beautiful memories of a wriggling baby, being wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger near the warming breath of animals are hard to recall in the aftermath of trauma. The trauma of holding the cold and lifeless body of Jesus brought down from the cross, the hasty anointing, the quick placing of linen and the cold stone of the tomb occupy her mind, questioning the purpose of it all. The trauma of Good Friday and its reverberations are felt by all and resonate with each of us. We all know suffering. Holy Saturday is for each of us. In the year that has been we need Holy Saturday.

  • Today let us acknowledge our loss, sit with our grief, tend to our sorrow

  • Today let us give thanks for actions of mercy and compassion we have witnessed

  • Today we allow calmness to descend.

  • Today we hold hope for tomorrow.

Let us take time in silence today to acknowledge our loss, sit with our grief and tend to our sorrow.

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