Easter is a time when we remember both the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is natural and good that we think of those two events together. In fact, to have one without the other is to lose the power of both.
However, when Jesus died, his disciples were not offered the same comfort. For a full day, there were no answers. There was no joy, no hope, no God. He had just died on the cross. When we think of Christ’s death, our minds often turn to the pain and suffering of torture. But the full horror of the crucifixion is not pain and suffering. It is God’s absence. It is in this absence, however, that our faith is tested. It is here that faith is formed.
Holy Saturday is the name given to the 24 hours between the crucifixion and the resurrection. It is a day that speaks of the absence of God, and it is as much a Christian experience as the day before and the day after.
Holy Saturday ridicules the idea that it is only the irreligious who can experience the absence of God, for in reality it is the religious who can miss what they have already known. This is analogous to waiting for a friend at a café. The later they are, the more we experience their absence. Our beloved is absent to everyone in the room, but we are the only one who feels it.
Who among us does not find ourselves dwelling, from time to time, or perhaps at all times, in the space of Holy Saturday? How often do we feel his absence from our lives? Yet this day is rarely spoken of and if so, it is only tolerated rather than embraced.
On Holy Saturday we find true faith. It questions our allegiance without satisfying the desire for reward. If there was no heaven, no joy or peace, if there were no blessings from God, would you still serve him? If God remained absent, would you still follow him?
It is in times of doubt that faith is forged.
My God, my God! why have you forsaken me! Nevertheless, I will trust in you.