Have you ever been to the funeral visitation of a loved one and looked at their face and thought, “they look just like they are sleeping.” While they may appear peaceful there is also the sadness of knowing that their silence and stillness is not merely a temporary state from which they can be awaken.
I wonder what Our Lady, St. John, Joseph of Arimathea thought when they looked at the face of Jesus as his head hung down from the cross. How did he look when he was laid in the tomb? Those arms that once gestured gracefully as he taught and healed, that face which once radiated the mercy of the Father, his entire body now rested silent and still.
Looking at the tomb one only sees a huge stone. No sound can be heard. Everything is quiet and still. God seemed to be at work in the person of Jesus in an unprecedented way. Yet now many of his disciples wonder if God’s work had ended. Has the Kingdom of God become a ghost town?
Though he is hidden from our view, however, Jesus does not rest. He is very active. Jesus descends into hell—the abode of the dead. He experiences the separation of his soul and his body, just as we all will. Yet, he descended to the realm of the dead on a mission as Savior and bearer of the Good News! By freely undergoing death, Jesus is able to visit the dead and call them to freedom and the fullness of life. He freely enters the dark depths of prison so that he could lead the imprisoned to freedom.
On Holy Saturday morning all is quiet. The Church does not celebrate Holy Mass. Everything is still and quiet as we all wait. We will not wait long, however. Soon Jesus will rise from the very depths of death, body and soul reunited and glorious. The Church will commemorate His Resurrection as darkness will give way to light, silence to praise, sin to grace, spiritual death to new life in baptism. We will rise with him!
Father Christopher DiTomo was ordained in 2011 for the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois. He is currently the Parochial Administrator of St. Gall Parish in the rural town of Elburn. He holds a S.T.B. from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL. Fr. DiTomo has taken courses and served as a chaplain for the Theology of the Body Institute.