Holy Saturday

Rom 6:3-11; Ps 118:1,2,16,17,22,23; Mk 16:1-7
“It is wonderful in our eyes!”

What is wonderful in our eyes? The Psalm used as a response to our reading from the Epistle to the Romans enables our response. “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the LORD has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.” The Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia is unstoppable! We can’t give enough thanks to the LORD for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. This mercy is fully revealed to our eyes of faith. This mercy is completely hidden in the details of history. Indeed, the whole house of Israel, the First Israel and the New Israel, is shaking with delight and fainting in shear wonder as we gaze upon the stone that the builders have rejected. It has become the very cornerstone that keeps the whole house of Israel standing and strong from age to age, unto the ages of ages. The right hand of the LORD has struck with power; indeed the right hand of the LORD is exalted far beyond the power of the Temple or the power of Rome. The so-called powerful ones reached out hands of violence to execute this dangerous Jesus, the so-called “King of the Jews.” All the powers on earth and all the fury of hell was powerless to put an end to the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, the whole world. Even after they had crucified him and pierced his side with a lance, even after they took him down and buried his body in a tomb, secure behind a huge stone. Still he was lifted up beyond death, never to die again, while history has lost track of the soldiers and even the great leaders, the Lord Jesus still cries out, “I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the LORD.” Those powers that had attempted to build a whole world without the cornerstone that the LORD God Almighty had provided. Now the powerless and slain Lamb of God stands in the midst of his angels and saints. He has been lifted up on the cross, lifted higher in the resurrection, and enthroned in the ascension at the right hand of the Father. This Lord Jesus is the only cornerstone on which we can build the New Temple. It is the only cornerstone on which we can build our lives of faithful love and mercy. On the rock solid witness of Psalm 118 and all our ancestors in the faith we have come to build a beautiful city, the City of God. Rather, we have come to watch with eyes of faith as the Holy Spirit builds upon the cornerstone rejected and now restored.

What a self-concept! What a self-awareness! What a startling way of seeing one’s self! As Saint Paul writes, “Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.” Mere clay becomes living flesh. Deadly oceans become paths to freedom. Hearts of stone are replaced with fleshy hearts. Stones are rolled away. Tombs are empty. Angels appear. Truly unexpected events are taking place in our readings from the vigil. Dare we expect that we are dead to sin, and alive no longer for ourselves, but for him who has first loved us and continues to love us? Saint Paul wants us to notice how completely we have been united with Christ. By our baptism we have been baptized into the death of Christ and raised in his resurrection. Indeed, the Father has raised to glory all those who have become one with his son, His Only Begotten Son. We are no longer slaves to sin and death. We are no longer slaves to fear and regret. We are no longer slaves to our passions and desires. Indeed our deepest desire itself has been transformed, and we now long for God more than for our next breath, our next heart beat. We no longer live, but Christ lives in us.

Just as their eyes were being filled with the light of a New Day…the women were not afraid to meet any soldier who would keep them from anointing the Crucified. The only lingering fear that remained on their lips was expressed in this quiet morning conversation: “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb…it was very large.” Not long after this last bit of fear was mentioned in passing, the eyes of the women were filled with wonder when they looked up to see that indeed the stone had been rolled back—the tomb was opened and the light of a New Day enabled them to see the amazing appearance of a young man sitting on the right side and clothed in a white robe. Now by the light of the New Day, by their tearful eyes of faith, the women were utterly amazed. At this moment of confusion the young man gave an interpretation of the empty tomb that still inspires faith as we gaze in meditation, with eyes of faith, upon the empty tomb… Like the women we seek the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, yet he is not here; he has been raised! As we too behold the place where they laid him, we hear the command to go to meet him where he promised to meet us—in Galilee. Indeed, we are to find him raised and among those who received his signs and wonders with faith. We will find the Lord Jesus among the lame, blind, deaf, mute, paralyzed, leprous, criminals, sinners, dead and lost. There with the people of Galilee, with the people of faith, we will see him as he told us.