14. Jesus is Placed in the Tomb
Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Quiet moment of asking: “We can ask for the grace of the same deep sorrow that Joseph of Arimathea felt at this sombre moment. This is even more deeply the sorrow of Mary the Mother of Jesus and our mother; indeed, she is Our Lady of Sorrows. In this petition, we can turn to her, as with every petition we have.”
We listen to Matthew’s Gospel which preserves for us the story of Joseph of Arimathea’s pious and respectful deposition of the body of Jesus. Although Mary’s presence is not specifically mentioned in this story, it is impossible to imagine that she was not here. She would surely have helped Joseph to lay out the body of her dead son. Ask her to allow you to comfort her and share this moment of bereavement with you; be with her, and let her be with you. With her, and with this good man Joseph, rest in silent mourning by the tomb for some moments, then let Joseph, or even help him, to roll the stone over the entrance. Then depart in silence.
When it was evening, there came a rich man of Arimathea called Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. So Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean shroud and put it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away.
Matthew 27: 57-60
NOTICE – A silent contemplation moment
The Lord has been taken away from us. His mortal remains are gently taken down from the Cross and this good man Joseph has, taking a huge risk, asked permission from the authorities to care for the body, which he does with great tenderness and respect. In silence, let us sit by the tomb with him, with Mary and with those few who have not run away. This is a time of bereavement and grief, when words are inadequate, so we let our shared silence speak for us.
This is Holy Saturday. It is a day, in the church, when the Eucharist is not celebrated anywhere in the world before nightfall. The altars in our churches have been stripped bare and the tabernacles stand open and emptied. We need to be present to this emptiness, this desolation, paying close attention to the variety of feelings and emotions we sense right now. We might desire to avoid this silence, replacing it with activity and noise, but we really should stay in the silence as long as we can. Then we might notice that, in the midst of all this apparent triumph of hate and evil, there are still some good people who show compassion, not odium. In this compassion there is, surely, hope.
Good and gracious God, you are with us when we go through the loss of someone we love because you too have felt the loss of your only Son. You are with us, too, when we feel that all our hopes have come to nothing, because you took the risk if becoming one of us and emptying yourself of power. You know what it is like to feel hopeless and powerless, because you were there too in Christ your Son.
But your power working through our human weakness is greater than anything that we can do for ourselves. Help us to trust in your power and to learn more about you. Make us better people as we follow in the footsteps of Christ. May we never lose hope in you or in ourselves, and bring us closer to you each day that we are here and for the rest of our lives.
Together we pray; Lord, we want to walk beside you in your suffering. Forgive us; and help us to see you in the suffering of the poor.