A reflection on Holy Saturday
It is Holy Saturday, the gap between death and resurrection, the gap in which those of us who have lost loved ones live. I have been reading this morning of other mothers who have survived, literally “live beyond” the deaths of their own children.
Women like Jennifer Hubbard, mother of Violet killed in Sandy Hook 2012 and Barbara Ann LaPorte, mother of Matthew, killed in the Virginia Tech shootings 2007. Both Jennifer and Barbara write of their love for their children and the gift of Grace they have received to take up their own crosses and walk to advocate for change on behalf of their children.
Mary Magdalene and the other women went to care for Jesus in the tomb but the stone had been rolled away and he was not there. Pope Benedict XVI reflects on their grief:
Despite the miraculous apparition of two angels sitting in the open tomb “one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been,” Mary Magdalene remains unmoved, consumed only by her grief. Two times heaven has to ask her (once via the angels, the second time by the risen Lord himself) woman, why are you weeping? She has come to her own fatalistic conclusion about what happened to Christ “they have taken my Lord and I don’t know where they laid him” and it is from this pessimism that she must be converted. When the risen Jesus speaks her name “Mary!” like the people on the day of Pentecost, she was “cut to the heart.” The risen Christ command to “stop holding on” pertains to our preconceptions and our stubbornness as well. Something greater than our sorrow is now at work in the world. It is the reason why, even in our weeping, we bend over and peer into the tomb, full of expectation.
There is something more to death than death. It sounds a bit simple but I have been struck by it many times in the three years and three months since Mack’s sudden death. Mack’s own journey and his legacy of love and passion continue and I stand in awe when I witness it.
It is strangely comforting to stay in the stinking tomb and confines of my mind where all of my “what ifs and shoulds” for Mack’s life fester. But, it is a suffocating place. Like all who hear the call of Jesus as he stands outside the tomb of our own selves and calls “Come forth!” I am afraid. But it is the path to life.
“In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it astounded me.” – St. Augustine (354-430)
3 thoughts on “Come forth and live”
Thank you Elizabeth. I and my four sons just lost our wife/mom on February 20, 2016. She was 45 years old. I’m using your devotional to preach today on Easter. I’m stuck in the Holy Saturday- the GAP between Death and Resurrection. Our prayers go out to you. He is risen indeed!
Dear Kevin, I am so sorry to hear about your wife and this new path you and your sons have to walk. Another book you might find helpful is linked on our resources page, it is by Jerry Sittser called “A Grace Disguised” which is about his own journey as a single father of three after a car accident killed his wife, daughter, and mother. I have read it several times and it helped me very much. Peace and courage to you.
Thank you, Elizabeth (and Christian) for sharing the story, the love of your son Mack, and the unfolding spiritual awakening, with others, which is an expression of love in itself for others and not only helps in your healing but also helps us all to grow and move closer to our divine nature.
Things will always be taken away, and death is a part of life, but the soul lives on … in Peace. So when Jesus says “Why do you weep?” he is also saying, in a sense: Do you not know Heaven is for Real (now a book and movie)? Do you not know that “I am with you always…to the end of the age” Matt 28:20 (and said many other times in the Old and New testament – I am with you, I will never leave you, etc.etc.) That God is always with you? Do you not know that Love never fails? Then why do you weep, my child of God?
Through many losses of my own, I have slowly come to understand what St. Augustine declared, our greatest enlightenment usually only comes at the darkest of times (“In my deepest wound I saw your glory, and it astounded me.”) and for this we can rejoice indeed!
So this is why we are to be thankful for all things and continually grateful for His Presence, for without the trial, we would have remained “in the dark” on these Truths, thus missing the Glory. And with this great gift, we are not only renewed but also strengthened, so that we can then let our light shine for others during their darkest days. And thus the cycle of life continues – but we must all learn it on our own journey, via our evolving story.
Thanks again for sharing your story, and thus your Light!