Why Weren’t You Here?

On Holy Saturday the psalms and readings of Tenebrae dwell on the mystery of death. Psalm 6 offers that great promise  “My soul is glad, even my body shall rest in safety, for you will not leave my soul among the dead, or let your beloved know decay.”(Psalm 6)

The promise extends to creation itself, as we hear especially in the homily for Holy Saturday. Jesus goes down to the realms of death and brings redemption. Jesus does not rise alone, but humanity and creation rise with him.

The candles at Tenebrae lead to another reflection. The 15 candles stand for Jesus, his twelve apostles and the two disciples from Emmaus. As 14 candles are extinquished, we remember those who left him on Good Friday and fled. 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is not represented in the Tenebrae candles. She was there on Good Friday, but she is not among those our candles represent. Where did she go after his death and burial on Good Friday?  Where was she on Holy Saturday?

It’s likely she went back to Bethany, the place where Jesus and his followers stayed during the feasts, among friends, the gospels seem to indicate. Martha, Mary and Lazarus were there.

It’s also likely Lazarus, raised from the dead offered her hope. But his death was so unlike that of her Son. Lazarus died of some sickness. Jesus was brutally put to death.  

Would Mary have the same questions of God that Martha had of Jesus? Why weren’t you here? This was a day the piercing sword foretold by Simeon the temple struck most deeply into her heart. This was a day her faith was fiercely tried.

In our calendars, Saturday is a day we remember Mary. We remember her today. She asked the great questions of life. “How can this be?” She asked the angel who announced the coming of Jesus to her. “How can this be” she must have asked at his death.

And so we pray to her  and ask her to “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. “

“How can I describe you, to what can I compare you, virgin daughter of Sion?Huge as the sea is your aflliction, who can take it away? ” (Lamentations)

Through her heart his sorrow sharing 
all his bitter anguish bearing           
Now at length the sword has passed.
Can the human heart refrain.       
From partaking of her pain.              
 In that Mother’s pain untold?
Holy Mother, pierce me through, 
in my heart each wound renew 
of my Savior crucified.

1 thought on “Why Weren’t You Here?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s