Year A - Holy Saturday or Absent Saturday
April 19, 2014
As usual with two accounts, there are similarities and differences between the tellings. The major difference is the Matthean addition about guarding the tomb for fear that the disciples would be as duplicitous as were the Chief Priest and paid-for mob. Knowing the power of lies they were concerned that a big one could counter their big one and people would remember only the last lie they heard (“the last deception would be worse [for us] than the first”).
The only thing the fearful ones forgot was that you can roll lies over truth for a while, but “at the length truth will out”. The only alternative is to keep building the lie bigger and bigger over time. Even here it will eventually fall of its own weight.
A second difference is that Nicodemus, who only appears in John, in John reappears with an affirmation of Jesus with a boat-load of expensive spices instead of questions or a voice of reason/moderation.
The similarity is testimony that Jesus is dead. Dead and gone. Gone as far as effectively being in Sheol or Hades or Hell. There will be no Nicodemus-like reprise. Jesus is erased from this world. The guards of Matthew and our experience will both confirm that dead is dead.
The loss of Friday is shock. The loss of Saturday is resignation, not awe.
Though it is day, it is as dark as a sealed tomb where not even hope tiptoes.
Spoiler alert—Note well that without resignation there is no resurrection. This makes it very difficult for us today to experience Mary Magdalene and another Mary simply sitting across from the tomb. If they are too numb to do anything but sit and sense movement across the way and we are not numb about the crucifixions going on in our own context with trafficking, intentional denial of health care to the poorest, continued discrimination of LGBTQ people and immigrants without papers, increased gap of purchasing power, blocked decision-making, increased weather events, and so much more, we won’t be able to finally return to life to witness to changes necessary for our common life to rebound and flourish. Eventually Mary will come back to life and be a source of life for many. May we know how bad it is, there is no rescue on the horizon, we are alone.
Only when this Saturday is real will we take our part. Blessings on those who have lost all, who have nothing left to lose, for they are free to change and bring change.