Holy Saturday

April 20, 2019 |

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightningand his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.” Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Matthew 28: 1-10

St. John of the Cross
Here John of the Cross writes about the Resurrection in the context of creation.

“St. Paul says: the Son of God is the splendor of his glory and the image of his substance [Heb 1:3]. It should be known that only with this figure, his Son, did God look at all things, that is, he communicated to them their natural being and many natural graces and gifts, and made them complete and perfect, as is said in Genesis: God looked at all things that he made, and they were very good [Gn 1:31]. To look and behold that they were very good was to make them very good in the Word, his Son.

“Not only by looking at them did he communicate natural being and graces, as we said, but also, with this image of his Son alone, he clothed them in beauty by imparting to them supernatural being. This he did when he took on our human nature and elevated it in the beauty of God, and consequently all creatures, since in human nature he was united with them all. Accordingly, the Son of God proclaimed: Si ego exaltatus a terra fuero omnia traham ad me ipsum (If I be lifted up from the earth, I will elevate all things to myself) [Jn 12:32]. And in this elevation of all things through the Incarnation of his Son and through the glory of his resurrection according to the flesh not only did the Father beautify creatures partially, but, we can say, he clothed them entirely in beauty and dignity” (C 5.4).

This Vigil’s Gospel reading records the Resurrection of Jesus as it was handed onto Matthew. For Matthew, the Resurrection of Jesus is the fulfillment of what Jesus previously promised. Now it was for his followers to go back to Galilee and see him there.

For John of the Cross, the Resurrection was not merely a resuscitation of Jesus’ human body but part of God’s work to beatify the human race as he did when he created it.

If we have been thus blessed, it behooves us to remember this great work of God because it is easier to see ourselves as clothed in anything but beauty and dignity; and yet this was what Jesus anticipated when he washed the feet of his disciples. He restored them to their original cleanliness and suitability for fellowship with God. Jesus is the model of what fellowship with God looks like. As John says in his Gospel: no one has ever seen God but the one born of God Jesus Christ. During the Season of Lent, we saw Jesus fasting (The First Sunday of Lent); in the act of charitable work of healing and caring for the poor (the work of almsgiving) and in prayer (his agony in the Garden). We are invited to do the same but now in the light of having been clothed entirely in the beauty and dignity of Jesus’ Resurrection.

Lord God, through your Son’s death you destroyed the power of death over us; and through his Resurrection you restored the beauty and dignity in which you created us. Grant, we ask, that we may embrace our own crosses with the same love your Son embraced his cross for our salvation and live in trust of our transformation into your beauty with the same fortitude that your Son gave witness to you. We ask this in Jesus’ your Son’s name. Amen.

Adapted from A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. John of the Cross by Fr. George Mangiaracina O.C.D.

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