The tomb was nearby; they laid Jesus there.
A devotion written by Mary C. Earle.
Holy Saturday is sometimes called the Great Sabbath, referring to Jesus being asleep in death, resting before being raised. It is the day in which we remember Jesus laid in the tomb, before the women discover that the stone has been rolled away from the mouth of that rocky resting place. It is a mysterious day on which members of the early church wondered how this “Holy Undying One” was abiding—a sacred pause between death and resurrection.
A homily from the second century tells us that this is also the moment when Jesus “descended into hell,” as the Apostles’ Creed states. The tradition remembered Jesus Christ, the Holy Undying One, going in search of all who had died before. The homily tells us that this Lord went in search of Adam and Eve, our own first parents. Finding them, he lifted them up and proclaimed, “I did not create you to be a captive in hell!” He bid them to waken from the sleep of death, to rise and follow him into fullness of life.
Whether you understand this figuratively or concretely, the point of the homily is that in this Holy Undying One, the Risen Lord, God’s desire to liberate us from all of our hells is revealed. Your hell may be personal, perhaps enslavement to addiction of some type. Or your hell could be communal, a family trapped in cycles of violence and abuse. Or your hell could be political if you are living in a country in which power and corruption go hand in hand.
Holy Saturday proclaims to us that the life, mercy, and light of God suffuses every single hell we can think of. We were not created to be captives in hell. When that divine truth sinks into our brains, our bodies, our very bones, we begin to know the inner liberation that leads us to speak truth in love, to take risks, and to desire freedom for all who are captive. Holy Undying One, have mercy upon us.
Holy Undying One, I know that You did not create me to be a captive; may your liberating grace and mercy guide me to seek the freedom to love in your Name, and to stand with those who are not yet free. Amen.