They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.
It is a restless time for me. The image of the tomb, dark and cold dominates: Lazarus, Jesus and eventually, mine. My mortality looms before me as seldom before.
There is no liturgy at all today until the sun sets and the Church celebrates the Easter Vigil. However for this Holy Saturday in the Church’s Office of Readings, a reading on the descent of the Lord Jesus into Hell is used along with the biblical reading of Hebrews 4:1-13. It appears to come from a homily on Holy Saturday written in Greek dating back to the fourth century liturgy (PG 43, 439, 462f) but the author is unknown. It begins with this statement:
"Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear..." The homily goes on to speak of Christ's rescue of Adam and Eve from Hell, quite popular in early and medieval Christian liturgy.
"...He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve..."
It is a restless time for me yet I am reminded in Hebrews 4: "Therefore, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God. And he who enters into God’s rest, rests from his own work as God did from his..." And so my soul must rest and hope on this Holy Saturday. My mortality looms yet my immortality awaits. "Something strange is happening..."
The Season of Lent is a special time for us to slow down, look inward and make the necessary changes to truly become an Easter people.