Holy Saturday a ‘bonus’ of suffering, reflection

According to a song book I read recently the word of holy in Latin is bonus. 

Suddenly the idea of this ever-elusive trait of holiness made a bit more sense, even if it’s mostly illogical. Perhaps holiness is a bonus, not necessarily the lofty goal I could never reach. Holiness comes through the gift of God to those who survive life in the muck and mayhem of this dirty, wonderful, quixotic world.

Today, I read in my liturgy, is called “Holy” Saturday. After the vibrant celebration of Palm Sunday and the dark sadness of Maunday-Thursday, Good Friday envelops us in grief and loss and the humility of what Christ actually suffered at the hands of those he loved. We somberly reflect and pay tribute to a loving God who endured great evil for the sake of love, a plan that just never really makes sense when we embrace it up close.

As Tony Campolo said, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a comin!” Easter Sunday and the triumphant rises of The Christ from the grave, from the violence, from the depths of hell itself sets all the sadness and heartache and confusion to rights. We do not live with a broken, crucified God but a risen Lord. 

All is well Easter morning, right? Look around. Does it all seem right?

I’ve neglected this day in the middle, this bonus round called Holy Saturday. How on Earth does it get this name? What makes the numbing grief of the disciplines broken dreams, of Christ in the tomb, of the evil victory of those in power … holy? 

I sat and considered this and grew irritated. God seemed to shrivel a bit.

“This is your plan?” I asked. This earth looks more like a ruin than a remodel. It’s crumbling around us and we have no zeal to truly rebuild.

My thoughts on violence and brokenness grew as Christ seemed deeper in the depth of loss. Look around this world. It is so so so very broken. Despite all the religious certitude and all the warring over doctrine and power and control and who really gets the rights to the God Trademark of Truth, people just seem largely … broken. Flawed. Violent. Angry. Hurtful.

I read the barbaric treatment of The Christ — scourging, mocking, spitting, hitting, crowns hammered into his skull, nails driven through this limbs, mockery and embarrassment, taunting a broken man as he hangs naked in the air like a cruel flag — and realize we haven’t changed all that much in 2,000 years. Read the news and see the barbaric treatment, the genocides, the hate, the prejudice, the judgment, the arrogance and the atrocities (far too often done in the name of God) and these horrid, uncivilized, unsophisticated acts of violence acted upon The Christ are really not that different from the same today.

Suffering is abundant and many of us lift a finger at God and wave a fist in the face of it. “Where are you?” we demand, and mostly, like He did with Job, God refuses to answer. This… these people… me???… we are the evidence of your kingdom God. Are you Effin kidding me? This Godforsaken mess is what you call a plan?

Just what the hell is so Holy about all of this pain and suffering that if anything Holy Saturday brings to mind?

Then I recalled my earlier thoughts on holiness:

Holiness comes through the gift of God to those who survive life in the muck and mayhem of this dirty, wonderful, quixotic world. 

Somewhere in this tumult I find that measure of peace. Easter is coming. Christ is rising still. His kingdom is still advancing, right here on Earth. Flawed that we are, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, Hindu or None, we are part of that plan. The act of Easter is the start of something still playing out before our eyes, something we can’t understand and would do well to claim less knowledge about. Because it is holy, a bonus.

The very act of grace that put Christ in human form is one that recognizes our brokenness from the outset and forgives us. This is no Eden, God says, as She sends her Son back into it, but it will be again, On Earth as it is in Heaven. We don’t deserve any of it, but it is given even so.

How do we respond? By doing our level best to be part of the love and not the hate. But swimming in this muck and trying to find the blue water of redemption. By loving those who hate and staring at our own hate right in the mirror. By accepting that all the world’s violence and brokenness and flaws are neatly packaged right within me if it not for grace.

What we do with that knowledge What we do with the fact that Saturday leads to Easter Sunday, to rebirth and life and renewal is the bonus. What we do is holy indeed.

A blessed Easter to you and yours.


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