Malankara World

Today in Passion Week
Meditations, Reflections, Prayers

Gospel Saturday

We spend the day reflecting upon the powerful reality of Jesus' death.

What is important is that we keep this day holy, and let our "sense" of the mystery of death shape our reflection, and our longing to celebrate the Easter gift of Jesus alive, for us and with us.

If we are able to celebrate the Easter Vigil, we can renew our Baptismal Promises in a way the completes our Lenten journey to the font. We offer a renewal of our Baptismal promises here, which we might do, in these or similar words, which any of us might make as we keep a vigil of readings and prayer Saturday night, or early Easter Sunday Morning.

"On Holy Saturday, the Church waits at the Lord's tomb in prayer and fasting, meditating on his Passion and Death and on his Descent into Hell, and awaiting his Resurrection. 

In His Steps - A Lenten Series

Today: Behind Closed Doors: Waiting

Bible Reading:

Gospel Saturday (Saturday of Good Tidings)

Daily Reflection
by Andy Alexander, S.J.
Vice President for University Ministry, Creighton University

On Holy Saturday we enter into the mystery. Today we contemplate Jesus, there in the tomb, dead. In that tomb, he is dead, exactly the way each of us will be dead. We don't easily contemplate dying, but we rarely contemplate being dead. I have had the blessed experience of being with a number of people who have died, of arriving at a hospital shortly after someone has died, of attending an autopsy, and of praying with health sciences students over donated bodies in gross anatomy class. These are blessed experiences because they all brought me face-to-face with the mystery of death itself. With death, life ends. Breathing stops, and in an instant, the life of this person has ended. And, in a matter of hours, the body becomes quite cold and life-less - dramatic evidence that this person no longer exists. All that is left is this decaying shell that once held his or her life.

Death is our ultimate fear. Everything else we fear, every struggle we have, is some taste of, some chilling approach to, the experience of losing our life. This fear is responsible for so much of our lust and greed, so much of our denial and arrogance, so much of our silly clinging to power, so much of our hectic and anxiety-driven activity. It is the one, inevitable reality we all will face. There is not enough time, money, joy, fulfillment, success. Our physical beauty and strength, our mental competency and agility, all that we have and use to define ourselves, slip away from us with time. Our lives are limited. Our existence is coming to an end. We will all die. In a matter of time, all that will be left of any of us is a decomposing body.

Today is a day to soberly put aside the blinders we have about the mystery of death and our fear of it. Death is very real and its approach holds great power in our lives. The "good news" we are about to celebrate has no real power in our lives unless we have faced the reality of death. To contemplate Jesus' body, there in that tomb, is to look our death in the face.

Today's reflection will lead us to the vigil of Easter. This night, communities from all over the world will gather in darkness, a darkness that represents all that we have been reflecting upon today. And there, in that darkness, a fire is lit. That flame is shared around the community until its light fills the room. Then, a song of exultation is sung, proclaiming that Christ is the light of this night. And, there, in the light of Christ, we will read the scriptures that prepare us to celebrate God's revelation. This is the story of our salvation - how God prepared to rescue us from the power of sin and death. The God who created us, who led a chosen people out of slavery, raised Jesus from death. We can rejoice that death has no final victory over us. We can celebrate our faith that we have been baptized into the death of Jesus, so that we might be baptized into his life.

As we behold the body of Jesus in the tomb today, and as we contemplate the mystery of our death, we prepare our hearts to receive the Good News of life. We know that tomb will be empty and remain empty forever as a sign that our lives will not really end, but only be transformed. One day, we will all rest in the embrace of Jesus, who knows our death, and who prepares a place for us in everlasting life. Our reflection on this holy Saturday, and our anticipation of celebrating the gift of life tonight and tomorrow, can bring immense peace and joy, powerful freedom and vitality to our lives. For if we truly believe that death holds no true power over us, we can walk each day in the grace being offered us - to give our lives away in love.

Holy Saturday Reflections
by Laurence Freeman OSB

An early Christian writer whose name is lost to us wrote these words in a homily to describe the meaning of this silent day of transition:

Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

After the drama of trauma there is the long aftermath of ordinariness.

It is like a powerful wave of the sea that hit the land with great force and is now being sucked back into the ocean. You even wonder if the great crash ever happened at all, so quiet and empty and mundane everything seems.

As we accept the uneventfulness and the untimed waiting, however, something emerges. It transpires through the immeasurable emptiness that is all that is left. A sense grows of union with what we will not ever again see in the same way. A mutual inwelling and presence to one another in a greater presence that contains everything. Even in the residual grief of the loss a new kind of peace also shows in an awareness that this new union is as definitive and permanent as the very loss that lies behind it.

So even when nothing is happening – as we learn in the emptiness of meditation where we experience death and resurrection daily – new life has begun to emerge. In the mind of Christ we see that there are two creations, both beautiful and terrible. The first is marked by mortality, the horizon beyond which we can see nothing. The new creation is known by those who awaken to their being one person with the one person who comes back to us over that horizon.

Brothers and sisters:

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?

We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,
so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him
through a death like his,
we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.
Romans 6:3-11

Contemplating the Day After the Crucifixion with the Mother of James & John

Inspired by: The Gospel According to Matthew 27: 55-61

Mary has finally fallen asleep so I'll step outside for a minute. Just sitting here in the sun feels healing. I don't know how Mary got through yesterday, but I'm glad Magdalene and I were there for her. I have seen crucifixions from a distance because the Romans always like to be public about them and want us to watch – and they want us to be afraid. In the past I have always hurried past them, covering my ears from the screams of pain in the air. Yet yesterday it was Jesus, our Jesus, in that agonizing death.

Even with all of her strength, Mary almost fainted a few times; first, while Jesus was scourged and again when he fell dragging the cross. My son, John, was with us all day and helped to support Mary. I'm not sure how much more she could have borne. I was glad Jesus' death was quicker than most so he was out of his pain. John lowered the body from the cross as gently as he could but it was heavy and I could see that Mary was worried it would drop. When he was down, she cradled Jesus in her arms, she put her head on the wounds on his chest and just stayed there for a while. There were no tears left. Magdalene and I pulled the thorns out from his matted hair while John spoke to a man who had a tomb for Jesus. I tried to wipe his face off, but I didn't have water. Then he was taken to the tomb, not even anointed, and we brought Mary back here. Magdalene tried to get her to eat. I know she hasn't slept in a couple of days.

And through all of this, where was my son, James? James and John were like brothers to Jesus and how I wish James had the courage to stay with him yesterday. A mother loves her children but a mother knows her children and courage has never been strong in James. When they first met Jesus, John told me that Jesus had laughed and called them "Sons of Thunder." I thought he was mocking my younger son because James has always been so afraid. Then I met Jesus and knew he would not do anything to hurt either of them. It is almost as if he was inspiring each of them to be something beyond what they believed they could do - beyond their fears.

In the last three years, Jesus spent a lot of time at our house with my boys, stopping by for a rest or meal as they traveled around. I could see the great love Jesus had for James and John, and they for him. He was older than my sons, warm and funny, and would regale us with stories at the table. At times he was serious, compelling as he talked about speaking with God as his father, as someone who loved us all. He talked to us about the poor and how people needed to get out from under the heavy hand of the religious authorities and care for each other. As I listened, I could see the impact this was having on my sons. They agreed, they seemed to understand his message. John is quiet and humble but has always been fearless and he spoke up quite easily. But I was surprised that my timid James seemed bolder as they talked.

Once, after Jesus had been at our table talking about the Kingdom, I just did what any mother would do - I asked him to save special places in his Kingdom for my sons. The others in the group got upset when they heard what I had asked Jesus, but my sons don't push themselves forward enough. I want them to be taken care of and I thought Jesus could do it.

I started getting worried for them all as rumors began to fly about Jesus and the authorities. I didn't want any of them to get into trouble. When James came running into the house so late on Thursday, I knew there was trouble. Jesus had been arrested. John had gone to get Mary. I pulled on my cloak immediately to go to Mary, and could only look sadly at James as he ran the other direction, unable to look at me.

Now on this long Saturday, a few of us quietly take care of Mary and try to think of what to do next. Sitting out here in the sun, I think of my sons. My John hasn't spoken much and has been gone most of the morning. What will become of these "Sons of Thunder"? Have these past three years with Jesus made any difference or meant anything? What happens to them now that he is dead? They are good sons, but simple men. I know they will not be remembered when they are gone. They will not make a difference in this world. Neither one of them seems to want to be someone in life. They don't seem to have anything to give their lives to, nothing that inspires them.

Jesus is never far from my mind. What a crushing blow his death is to all of us. What now? I put my face to the sun and feel its warmth. I remember what Jesus used to say about praying to God as if he were my father.

Please, Father. I know my sons are good men, but they need some guidance. James, especially, is so timid and fearful. Help them to find the way to you. Give them some hope now that Jesus is gone, some ‘spirit' or courage to become what you created them to be.

Help me to be with Mary in the days ahead. Help me to forget what I saw yesterday. I want life to go back to the way it was.

I get up slowly and go back to the house. So, so much sadness, disappointment and emptiness in this day.

Now I have to go to the market and buy the spices for his body. Magdalene and I will go up early in the morning and do the anointing. What a sad duty that will be. Where is the hope in our lives?

Holy Saturday Reflections from All Hallows in Leeds, England

Reading: John 19.38-42

Reflection

Drink deep of the chalice of grief and sorrow,
held out to you by your dark angel of Gethsemane:
the angel is not your enemy,
the drink, though sharp, is nourishing,
by which you may come to a deeper peace
than if you pass it by,
a 'health of opened heart' …

From a slow accepting of our wounds, life within us begins to move outward, bitterness waning, compassion growing …

True prayer is the source, the prayer that comes not from the mouth, but as from the lips of wounds …

Hidden in that prayer is both the crucified Christ and our fellow-sufferers, those whom, in intercession and compassion, we need in order to be ourselves.

There is no higher aim
than to reclaim
another, blinded by life's pain,
to help him see again.

Seek love in the pity of another's woe,
In the gentle relief of another's care,
In the darkness of night and the winter's snow,
In the naked and outcast - seek love there.

Jim Cotter

Prayer

O Jesus, stretch forth your wounded hands over your people to heal and to restore, and to draw us to yourself and to one another in love. Amen.

Sources:
Creighton University Online Ministries - Praying Lent
The World Community for Christian Meditation (www.wccm.org)
All Hallows in Leeds, England
Lectionary of the Syriac Orthodox Church

Malankara World Journal Specials on Gospel Saturday:

MW Journal Issue 340 - Good Friday-Gospel Saturday Special (May 2016)

Malankara World Journal, Gospel Saturday Special, Issue 277 - April 3, 2015

MW Journal Issue 213 - Holy Saturday Special (April 2014)

MW Journal Issue 134 - Passion Week Special 4 - Good Friday and Holy Saturday (2013)

MW Journal Issue 69 - Holy Week Special - 3 (Good Friday - Holy Saturday) (2012)

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