(Reflections during Holy Week, 2016)
This is Holy Week, and today is Holy Saturday.
Some traditions call this day Great Sabbath or Black Saturday. Black seems accurate. Far more, I think, than ‘Good’ used to describe Friday.
When it comes to the details in the gospel story of Saturday, we get nothing. It’s as if the screen has gone dark.
As we reflect on Holy Week, my question is: What happened on Saturday? Why is it we have such detailed accounts of the events of Friday and Sunday, but know nothing about Saturday?
I wonder what that day must have been like for Jesus. Are we to assume that nothing meaningful happened? Is it by design that this day was ignored in the Gospels?
Yet if you take away Saturday, all you have is a cheap magic trick; and my friends, there was nothing cheap about what happened that weekend. That particular Saturday was a costly day, I argue far more so than Friday.
Before we explore the significance of Saturday, let’s recap our knowledge of Friday and Sunday.
We know a lot about Friday.
We know about the Last Supper and Judas’ betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. We know about Jesus’ last meal with his friends and how he washed their feet. We know about Jesus’ secretive arrest and unjust trial. We know Peter, during the arrest, made an attempt at stopping it and cut off the ear of Malchus. We know Jesus put that ear back on. We know that all the disciples scattered and one, Peter, betrayed even knowing Jesus. We’ve read about the excruciating crucifixion and when it was finished. We even learn about the burial his friends were able to give him. We know about the massive stone in front of the tomb, supposedly sealing Jesus in his death.
With detail after gruesome detail, we know a lot about Friday.
We know about Sunday, too.
On Sunday, we know Mary Magdalene was the first to discover Jesus’ empty tomb. We see that John and Peter have to see it for themselves and then they go to tell the others. We hear the angels and Jesus himself ask Mary why she’s crying.
The Gospels share quite a few details about Sunday.
But what happened on Saturday?
Unfortunately, we’re left to speculation about that in-between day. I imagine each disciple was in shock and disbelief, scared and confused, replaying the scenes over and over in the quiet torment of Saturday. There had to have been shame for abandoning Jesus. And there had to have been some finger pointing, too.
They were stuck in Saturday, living the horrors of Friday. Saturday must have been excruciating. From their perspective, every plan they had for their future was shattered. I would think one of the authors would have mentioned something about it. Even a sentence would be nice: “All Sabbath long the disciples talked about the last week and wept.”
But we get nothing.
Not a single detail.
It seems there’s a chapter missing. But when you think about it, there is deep significance in that Saturday.
I believe it’s because Jesus’ greatest suffering for us wasn’t Friday or Sunday, but Saturday. Whatever happened on that day for Jesus was far worse than anything we could ever imagine. And maybe the disciples’ silence on that day is evidence of their own torment.
Maybe Jesus leaving heaven to come to earth meant he had to live with the ache of ‘the already’ and ‘the not yet’ himself. Maybe that’s what Saturday was all about.
Maybe it’s all part of Jesus’ commitment to love us, too. Even if he knew where the story was ultimately going, he knew he needed to be in the space of transition if we were going to be asked to be in that space, too.
I think there’s something deep in me, and all of creation for that matter, that already has intimate knowledge of Saturday. We just don’t know what to do with the groan that comes from that transitional space.
Maybe underneath the seismic disruption of Saturday lies meaningful treasures you can’t yet imagine or appreciate. Transitions compromise our vision for the future, and just because you can’t see something meaningful doesn’t mean it’s not there.
But you are here.
It’s Saturday; whatever yours may be.
Maybe you are leaning into it.
Or maybe you feel like you’re not.
You feel more like you’re on your heels, pinned down or stuck.
Or maybe you’re working real hard to skip over Saturday – with all its murky confusion – to get to Sunday.
But you are still here.
And somewhere deep in your soul you want to believe that there’s something significant to live for. May that unsettling discontent set you in pursuit of it.
As we reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice on Good Friday and celebrate his resurrection on Easter Sunday, take time today, this Black Saturday, to digest what Jesus may have gone through on that day. Also take time to look at your own ‘Saturdays’.
Saturday’s hold an invitation to accept and it’s about your own transformation. Because deep inside, you are longing to dig up the buried treasure of your deepest desires and transpose them into “now what.”
Welcome to your Saturday.
What a holy day, indeed.