The early church developed several ways to commemorate the day Jesus lay in the grave. In addition to the canonical Gospels, connected to a verse in 1 Peter 3: 19-20,an apocryphal writing known as “The Gospel of Nicodemus” became the basis of the phrase in early creedal statements that Jesus descended into hell and freed the souls of the righteous who had died before Jesus lived.
How do we free ourselves from the darkness that overcame us over the past year? We have used several ways of finding hope: through nature, through our family, our pets, the continuity of our faith community enabling us to help others even in dark times.
Our hope is in the promise of new life through the One who showed us a new vision of God and was willing to risk his life to bring that vision to us as well as the forgotten and brokenhearted. As we go through this day when Jesus lay in the grave, let us continue to share his vision of God.
Prayer for the Day
Patient God, we confess our love is not what we would hope,
Focused on our own needs, the needs of others dim in our eyes
Transform our lives so we hear the world around us,
And help us respond to those who need us.
Open our hearts to your love and our ears to your word
In the name of him who came to show us your way,
Even Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Thoughts for the Day
To be sure, it was not Easter Sunday but Holy Saturday, but, the more I reflect on it, the more this seems to be fitting for the nature of our human life: we are still awaiting Easter; we are not yet standing in the full light but walking toward it full of trust.
Pope Benedict XVI in Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977
On Holy Saturday I do my best to live in that place, that wax-crayon place of trust and waiting. Of accepting what I cannot know. Of mourning what needs to be mourned. Of accepting what needs to be accepted. Of hoping for what seems impossible.
Jerusalem Jackson Greer, American writer
The cords of death encompassed me, the torrents of perdition assailed me;
The cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help;
From the temple, God heard my voice and my cry reached to God’s ears.
Psalm 18: 4-6.
Ancient Icon: The harrowing of hell