It must have been a very long day for Mary. The horror of the crucifixion the day before. The burial. And then silence. Deafening silence.
We hear no more about Mary until Pentecost. Scripture records the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene and the apostles, but not to Our Lady. But of course, she saw him. She was likely the first to whom he appeared that glorious Easter morning.
From A Mother’s Heart
What must Holy Saturday have been like for Mary and for his apostles and disciples? Mary waited—no doubt pondering all these things in her pierced and wounded heart.
Mary knew what her Son had told her—he would rise on the third day. His apostles were told the same—and even saw him transfigured—but it seems likely to me that Mary was the only one who was absolutely sure. She didn’t struggle with faith—preserved as she was from the original sin that dogs us.
So where do we next encounter the apostles on Easter morning? Hiding in the upper room for fear of the Jews. I can understand that. The worst had occurred. Their hopes were dashed. Were they next? Surely fear would grip their hearts and minds.
Skipping Holy Saturday
As I meditated upon the mysteries of the rosary recently it struck me how Holy Saturday is skipped over entirely. No mention at all. We meditate on the crucifixion and skip right to the Resurrection.
And yet, truth be told, isn’t that where most of us live?
We’re called to a resurrection faith, yet too many of us live a Holy Saturday kind of faith—locked up in fear, afraid to hope…empty. Sure, we know the story and that he rose from the dead, but do we really believe that we will? Do we have faith that God can turn even the worst situations in our lives around in miraculous ways? Or do we lock ourselves up in fear?
Think of the two disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus. “They stood still, looking sad…..We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” (Luke 13: 17, 21) Had hoped….past tense. All that time they were walking with Jesus and yet it took awhile before they even recognized him.
They had lost hope in spite of the fact that he had told them he would rise…and even after the women reported what they saw. They had hoped…
So, what does this tell us about us? We all know the story. We know he rose. But when the worst events occur in our lives, when we’ve prayed to avoid tragedy and yet it occurs, what do we do? Do we lock ourselves up in fear? How easy it is to lose faith.
3 Lessons of Faith
How do we move from a Holy Saturday kind of faith to a true resurrection faith? From despair to hope? From the fear that chokes us to courage? I think there are three lessons here.
Lesson 1: Remember His Mercies
Start with scripture. What does God tell us? How has he worked throughout salvation history to save his people?
Think of the Exodus and how he confounded Pharoah with one plague after another. How he parted the Red sea for his people while Pharoah’s powerful army perished on their chariots.
Remember Joseph in the Old Testament, sold into slavery by jealous brothers and how God used this to save the Jewish people from famine years later.
Read about all of Jesus’ many miracles. They still happen today. Find those stories and immerse yourself in God’s amazing, miraculous power. And remember the many blessings in your own life. They’re there if you take the time to look for them with the eyes of faith.
Lesson 2: Stay Close to the Eucharist
He had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:35). A lesson here for sure. The Sacraments are what enable our faith. On our own we walk blindly.
Lesson 3: Take Action
Mary Magdalene and the other women went out to anoint the dead body of Jesus. Were they expecting what they found—the stone rolled away from the tomb and an angel with such glorious news? Clearly not. But because they took action, they witnessed the greatest miracle ever to take place in all of human history. They weren’t locked up in fear—they did what they felt called to do and God rewarded them.
Making Sense of it All
At times we all walk along in despair, trying to make sense of so many contradictions in our lives. We’re human, and just like those disciples on the road to Emmaus, we may need to commiserate with others and talk. But Jesus is here with us, whether we see him or not. He’s walking right beside us…and listening.
Remember, when tragedy, disappointments, and contradictions occur, it’s okay to pull into a safe place for a time. But the great message of Easter is not to stay there too long. You could miss a miracle.