Scripture: Hosea6,1-3; Heb4,1-13; Mt27,45-66
He suffered grievously. He bled out His entire blood. He felt terrible and agonizing pain in His mortal body. He experienced desolation. He was all alone. There was no more to give. His humanity could take no more. It succumbed. He bowed down His head and gave up the spirit.
The veil of their temple was torn into two, signalling the end of that testament and the beginning of the new in His blood. The Holy of Holies that that veil covered and that created a barrier of separation between creatures and Creator was finally exposed. Yahweh had warned them severally that He wanted a closer union of love with His own. Their sins mitigated against that. The death of the Son re-established that.
The earth quakes, rocks were split, tombs were opened, "the bodies of many holy men rose from the dead, and these, after his resurrection, came out of the tombs, entered the Holy City and appeared to a number of people." (Mt27,51-53) Testimonies were seen. Even the Centurion and the other guards who were given the role of guarding the body of the Lord, when they saw the earthquake and all that took place, were terrified and said, "In truth this was a son of God." (Mt27,54)
To certify that He was truly dead, they drove a spear into His side. But indeed, He was truly dead. Seeing this terrible end to which their Master was put, the disciples naturally became very afraid. They were scattered. They lost hope. They thought it was the end of the promises He made. They began to think of self preservation. They hid themselves!
Those who killed Him rejoiced at their feat. They were happy to have destroyed the tree from its roots. His power over the hearts and souls and consciences of men and women had finally been brought to an end, they thought. Those miracles He performed that they attributed to Beelzebub, the prince of demons, had come to an end. The adoring crowd would now come back to them, or so they thought. His movement has come to an end.
They made sure He was buried in a tomb, the end of every mortal. They certified this by posting guards at the entrance so that there would be no foul play. They knew that after four days, the body would start decomposing. That grave became their "proof" of final victory over Him. Nothing could come after death again. His death has put a close to His "nuisance". They must have beaten their chests and celebrated.
Even satan rejoiced yesterday! For thirty three years, this man Jesus had laid siege to his stranglehold over the souls of men. Jesus had systematically dismantled satan's authority. His words changed hearts, His miracles destroyed the kingdom of darkness, His authority and dominance over unclean spirits and demons was total. Hearts and souls that were formerly dominated by satan had gone to Christ. The loss was incalculable. His death was thus a gain to the kingdom of darkness! So satan thought!
So, this morning, the tomb where He was laid is where we are all looking at. We have forlornly at that tomb. It has become emblematic and symptomatic of all that He represented. The chief priests were not bothered about that tomb. They knew it was final. But humanity waits at that tomb. Humanity and especially those who know that God cannot lie and that when He promises, He fulfills, wait eagerly. They know that all that happened in the last three years of His earthly life could not be a fluke.
They recalled His words, the majesty of His presence, the splendour of His being, the powerful authority He exercised. They recalled His promises of giving eternal life to those who believed in Him. They knew His words could not be a fluke. But with the closure of that tomb on Him, where is the hope now? In spite of the finality of that tomb and the large stone rolled at its entrance, despite the foolishness of still holding on, those who believed in Him knew that that tomb was never the end.
So they waited. And so, we wait. We pray. We fast. On this day, our fasting is a fasting in preparation. We know something will happen this night. We want to give our final preparation for that. There is no Mass this morning in all Catholic Churches, just like yesterday. This is because of the suffering, death and burial of the Lord. Yesterday was His supreme sacrifice, the one, single sacrifice for sins. That sacrifice is in perfect union with the sacrifice He gave at the Last Supper.
Today, we pray, fast and wait. We register our gratitude to the Lord for the salvation He brought to us. We praise Him for dying our death. We thank Him for the supreme sacrifice. We thank Him for His love.
Let us pray: "Almighty, ever-living God, whose Only-Begotten Son descended to the realm of the dead, and rose from there to glory, grant that your faithful people, who were buried with him in baptism, may, by His resurrection, obtain eternal life." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.