What’s so holy about it? It’s after Good Friday and before Easter Vigil. At first glance, it seems like an ordinary day that the Church forgot about and just stuck “Holy” in front of to make it seem legitimate. Nice try, but wrong.
We pray today.
Do you remember the ear of Elijah that listened for the silence of God’s presence (1 Kings 19:9-18)? Meditate on that. Do you believe that God can speak in silence? That He can speak in what “feels” like desolation and dryness? St. John of the Cross writes about the nakedness and emptiness of the spirit. This is necessary so that we may become full of grace, full of life (Lk 1:28; Jn 10:10). Holy Saturday is an opportunity to “let go and let God,” to be still and know that He is God (Ps 46:10a).
Today we ponder. Do you remember Mary keeping in her heart the life of Christ (Lk 2:19, 51)? Read the first passage (vv. 8-20). In verses 17 and 18, as you just read, the shepherds reported all the things the angels spoke to them about the child. Those who heard of the shepherd’s report were amazed; they wondered at these things. What did Mary do? She “kept” those things and pondered them in her heart.
What’s that about? Well, have you ever been in a conversation when someone announces new news or changes? Except, you knew about this news or change beforehand? You may have observed the reaction of the different people and contemplated within yourself the facts and truth of the matter which you already knew about. Were you silent during this “new” news? Did Mary already know this, whatever was spoken of her son? She pondered these things. She didn’t freak out or overreact, nor did she draw attention to herself. She let that word and truth dwell richly within her, just as we should let the Word of God richly dwell within us (Col 3:16).
Look at the second passage (Lk 2:41-51). Now that you’ve read it, you see that Mary was not picky with what the Lord gave her. She wasn’t bitter or sinfully stubborn. Even in the anxiety of losing the child Jesus, she ponders the event, the moment. How often do you or I receive even the distress of an unplanned event? How often do I believe that even a “bad” happenstance is a divine communication? Why, Mary? Why are you so docile? Why are you so loving, caring, and willing to receive all that the Lord has in store for you? Why do you trust in God so easily and so fully?
One might say, it’s better not to have loved than to have loved and lost. Not so with Mary, nor Jesus, nor the saint. What I mean to convey is: to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints (Rom 8:28). Mary lived this, knowing that she loved God. She knew that He works all things unto good for those that love Him… and those that love Him are called to be saints!
Let’s look at one more “Marian” passage. In Luke 2:22-38, Jesus is presented in the temple, according to the law. Simeon says something to Mary after he speaks about Jesus with Messianic language. A sword shall pierce through her soul so that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed. Hmm. Pause for a moment. Do you think she received this too? Do you think she was obedient and gave a “let it be done unto me according to thy word” kind of response? Well, she certainly understood that “sword in the soul” meant pain.
Here lies the crux. Here is the fork in the road, the crossroad, the half-way mark, the “last chance” to turn around. Sure, Mary was there for the shepherds to worship the new born babe. Sure, she found Jesus in the temple. But, would she be there in his pain? Would she be there in his death? Would she be willing to enter deeper into the life of Christ… even his death? So it seems. Just as Jesus was obedient even unto death on a cross (Phil 2:6-11), so too Mary is obedient even unto suffering for her son, for her children (those reborn in baptism).
Her soul was pierced so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed. Somehow, she teaches us how to pray. Somehow, she teaches us about ourselves. Have you ever learned something about yourself from you mother?
Somehow, she can help us today. She can guide us. Can you imagine the pain of emptiness for her on that Saturday following His crucifixion? What was that nakedness of spirit like? What was it like to be without Him who knew her so well and loved her so perfectly? She can teach us how to carry within ourselves the death of Jesus (2 Cor 4).
How did we get to this conclusion? By the quiet receptivity of Elijah, by the quiet pondering and contemplation of Mary. We too must enter even more deeply into our own life; we must “ponder within our spirit” (Ps 77). Let us draw near, just as the letter to the Hebrews writes. Be not afraid of the cross, for on the cross hung our salvation. Let us be baptized (immersed) into the death of Christ so that we might rise to new life (Rom 6; 2 Cor 5:17). Have a Holy Saturday.