For me Holy Saturday begs the question: is it good that we know the ending to the story? Does the knowledge that Jesus will rise from the dead cause us to skim over the emptiness and seeming meaninglessness of Jesus’ death?
I never paid much attention to Holy Saturday until taking part in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. This year it’s different because through the Exercises I have developed the habit of imagining myself as a person or witness in the various gospel stories. What I came to realize through this process is that the first Holy Saturday may have been a terrible affair for the women disciples. It isn’t just that Jesus, the hoped for Messiah, was put to death but it is also the means and the methods that went into accomplishing such a thing. It’s sitting in that knowledge and the reality that “there’s no justice, it’s just us.” Men claiming to uphold the Torah broke their beloved Torah in order to maintain their status quo. Pilate, in order to maintain peace, put a man whom he claimed did not deserve death to death on a cross. Jesus’ most intimate disciples proved to be rather faithless in the face of great danger. What was there to latch onto if you were one of Jesus’ disciples? Everyone was gone and those who remained were corrupt and just awful. Certainly, on that first Holy Saturday it did not appear that “the ark of the universe bent towards justice.”
I think for many of us Holy Saturday can be much more representative of our lives than the resolution and brightness of Resurrection day. There’s much that we encounter in our daily lives that doesn’t make any sense, is tragic, and simply unfortunate. Bad guys win, the corrupt get re-elected, church leaders lie and obfuscate, children unexpectedly die, cancer afflicts all kinds of people and on and one we can go. We do our best to make sense of these things but sometimes we just need to sit with them. Christians are a people who look for the Resurrection of the dead but sometimes that can be used as a distraction from the seemingly ugly aspects of life in this world. It can serve as our “get of jail” card from the inexplicable ways of this world.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t anticipate Resurrection morning or be excited and joyful. Instead, maybe we need to spend more time in the unknown, learn to get comfortable with it, and not seek to explain it away. Rather it may be okay to very simply believe that somehow someway Resurrection comes.