Today’s Thoughts: Once again Pope Francis offers us these words to help us on our journey through Holy Saturday – “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress: “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness… It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3:17, 21-23, 26).” (Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel)
I offer you these words from Pope Francis because I think they reflect what Holy Saturday is about. We sit and wait. Will there be an Easter? Yes, we know that there will be but those disciples and friends of Jesus who lived through this day many centuries ago did not. They lived this day in their grief but they also lived this day in hope. It was a time when they remember the story, it was a time when they hoped, it was a time when joy was conceived in their hearts. Today we live in the hope that once again joy might be conceived in our hearts!
The word that I always use for Holy Saturday is hope. After a long Lent, after the gift of Love which we call Good Friday we wait in Hope on Holy Saturday. The elements of the Easter Vigil which we will celebrate later today all point toward the virtue of Hope.
We retell the story of creation, our creation, of how God so loved us, of how we are created in the image and likeness of God. We retell the story of our release from slavery; How God with a mighty arm brought us from slavery to freedom. We hear how God provides for all those who are thirsty, who are hunger. The rich table, the rich food God provides for us.
On Holy Saturday night, we light a new fire. We bless new water. We welcome people, through baptism, confirmation, Holy Eucharist into the community of faith. It is a night of hope for us, for our church, for the world.
I read not too long ago that the most common one-liner in the scriptures is, "Do not be afraid." In the Gospel reading for the Vigil this one-liner appears twice. First the angel who meets the women at the tomb just after the earthquake tells them, “Do not be afraid.” Then as they go running from the tomb they run right into Jesus who also tells them, “Do not be afraid.” Fear can be a crippling emotion. It can sometimes hold us back from seeing, experiencing and proclaiming the Good News. The world can throw many experiences, situations and encounters at us that can cause us to live our life in fear. The message of our Easter celebration is to not be afraid, have to have hope!
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings a tune without the words and never stops at all!” (Emily Dickinson) We wait in faith today, we wait in love, and we wait to hear the tune of hope that perches in our soul singing a tune of love that never stops. Yes, today we wait...in hope!
Have a blessed Holy Saturday!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...