April 10, 2020

Good Friday wasn’t so good for the followers of Jesus all those years ago. From the accounts in the gospels, only a few of Jesus’ followers were there to the bitter end, when after hours of agony, he took his last breath and died. A few women, and in one gospel, John as well, watched from a safe distance. The ground shook, and the sky was dark from noon to three, like it was here a few years back during the solar eclipse.

 Just inside the entrance to the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem lies a long, low rock, believed to be the place where Jesus, after being taken down from the cross was placed to prepare his body for burial. It was there that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (the one who visited Jesus under cover of dark) wrapped Jesus’ battered and broken body with burial spices in long sheets of linen cloth, and placed it in a tomb that had never before been used. 

Judas let his worst day become his last day, and in the depth of despair and remorse, committed suicide. Since Jesus washed his feet, and shared communion with him, I am led to think Jesus’ grace extended even to Judas, if only he had realized it.

The other disciples, no doubt also full of self-reproach and grief, did the wiser thing, seeking the solace of connectedness and community as they sheltered-in-place, in fear, in the same room they had shared with Jesus just the evening before. 

And then, with the approach of the Sabbath, silence engulfed Jerusalem. I imagine that silence was qualitatively deeper than any silence since before the world began. The tomb was a silent place, a cocoon of darkness, closed off by a huge stone, sheltered within a rock hillside. Even the Roman guards stationed at the tomb grew silent, fell asleep.

Our world – our culture – seems to abhor silence. But, “silence”, according to St. John of the Cross, “is the first language of God.” We know that “In the beginning, the earth was formless and empty and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” 

Good Friday and Holy Saturday are days for silence, for deep listening, for growing still, for waiting, for feeling the emptiness of the human condition.  It is as if the world itself is holding its breath, waiting for what might come next.  We know from the Genesis narrative that what comes next. ‘Then God said, “Let there be light’, and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.’

Out of the silence of these next two days, something good is building, even though we can’t yet see it. Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, God spoke: Jesus Christ, the Light of the world which the darkness could not extinguish, arose! 

Have patience. What we long for, strength for these days and bright hope for tomorrow comes. The silence, the darkness, the waiting isn’t the end! The risen Christ is!

Waiting, with hope! ~ Anne

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