A reflection by Fr. Jim Fleming
As a Catholic and priest I’ve always found that Holy Saturday is a long, empty and rather boring day. It’s a day that only comes to life after night has fallen with the lighting of the Easter fire and the singing of the Exsultet as the candles drive the darkness away and the emptiness is swallowed up in Alleluias.
It is a day when we can reflect on both the emptiness and the alleluias in our own lives. We might try to enter into the spirit of those very brave women who were impatient for the Sabbath to be over so that they could anoint the dead body of Jesus with spices. Or we might imagine ourselves as the disciples who ran away when Jesus was arrested. Then again, we might consider how Peter is doing and feeling after his torrent of bitter tears when he denied at the top of his voice that he had never even heard of Jesus. And what about the religious and political leaders of the time; Pilate did his best to have Jesus freed while the local authorities had insisted on the death of Jesus as they regarded him as being too dangerous to keep alive.
Today we share the emptiness, and bring our own emptiness to the celebration as we realise that all our emptinesses are swallowed up in the fullness of God’s victory over death. Whatever emptiness we have experienced is now overwhelmed by the joy of tonight’s celebration. And so, we are called to go to the tomb with the women and allow ourselves to be amazed at the good news, news so astonishing that the disciples would not at first believe it: ‘He is not here; he is risen’.
Easter could be described as the great feast for today’s world; a world which cries out for a sense of hope. Things can be better, evil cannot ultimately triumph, pandemics and war can be brought to an end. Ultimately it’s to do with the message that we can trust our God who raised Jesus from the grave.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the crowning truth of our faith. It is the jewel in the crown, the splendour and glory of God. It is the central truth upon which our faith in Christ is founded and by which it is lived out. The truth of the resurrection was handed down to us by the apostles, testified to by the writers of the New Testament and was always and will always be preached alongside the cross as an essential part of the mystery of suffering, death and resurrection.
The death of Jesus left his disciples feeling abandoned and despaired and very much in the dark. But in the emptiness of his tomb a small light appeared. Through what they saw, in what they now began to understand, the possibility of hope dawned. For in all the dark and despairing moments of life the possibility of the resurrection exists. The message of the empty tomb is the transformation of death and despair into life and hope. And for this we sing Alleluia!