Station XIV: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

XIVImage by Adolf Lachman

We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.
Because by Your holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. Matthew 27:57-66

Today Michael, Mia and I went for a walk through a cemetery.

It seemed an appropriate thing to do on Holy Saturday. Passing by hundreds of grave markers, reading names and dates and epitaphs. There were several couples who had been married more than fifty years and then died within a year or two of each other. There were infants with just one year to list. There were fresh graves where you know a family had just stood. Mourning. Grieving. Sad.

We prayed a Divine Mercy chaplet while we walked. For those souls who have left, and for the ones who are still here without them.

Holy Saturday is such an interesting day for the Church. It is a silent day. No Masses. No events. No celebrations.

It is the day that the Bridegroom was taken away from us. And we just stood there. Mourning. Grieving. Sad.

For most people, this day is just the one that comes between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. But for the Church, this is an important day. It is the day that nothing happens. It is the day we grieve. It is the day we sit in the long, painful, uncomfortable silence with sadness. With hope, yes. But with nothing to show for it just yet.

Most of us are scared of death, pain and grief. So we avoid it. We don’t talk about it. We pretend like it won’t happen, and when it does we squirm and offer a few paltry phrases so we don’t have to look it in the face. We rush through it and try to get to the “good stuff.”

Here on Holy Saturday, we remember the day when Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb and the stone was rolled in front of it. Like that awful moment at a funeral when they close the casket.

Because here’s the thing. Most of us have our own tombs. Our own caskets. The places in our own lives where there has been no resolution, no reprieve, no resurrection. 

And in those places, it is okay to sit in the long, painful, uncomfortable silence with sadness. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to feel. We sit with hope, yes. But with nothing to show for it just yet.

Part of the inspiration for these meditations on the Station of the Cross this Lent was because of a conversation I had with a very good and very beautiful friend. We went to Mass together several months ago.

She leaned over to me and whispered, “Those sculptures, all around the church. Do they tell a story?”

I smiled. “They totally do.”

After Mass was over we walked around to each station and I explained the story of this Jesus. His passion, his suffering and his death. It is an amazing thing to share this story with someone who’s never heard it before.

But the thing about the stations is that they end here. With Jesus being laid in the tomb. There has been no resolve, no reprieve and no resurrection.

At least not yet.

So here we sit. Waiting at the tomb. Grieving over what has been lost. Angry that things haven’t gone the way we had hoped. Sad that sometimes circumstances just suck.

But this station in and of itself gives us hope. Because we are not alone in our grief. We are not alone in our waiting. We are not alone in this in-between-day.

Here, the only thing we know is this.

It is finished.

But it is not over. 

At least not yet.

The Stations of the Cross

All of us have those moments we mark in time. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Graduations. Funerals. We note the details so we can remember and retrace our steps with the ones we love, even long after they have left us. For hundreds of years, Christians have been doing the same thing, visiting Jerusalem to literally walk in Jesus’s last steps, remembering and retracing His path as He walked the way of the cross.

In the twelfth century, Saint Francis of Assisi looked after these sites, encouraging people to stop at significant points and reflect on what Jesus did for us. Knowing that not everyone was able to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the Franciscan Order later requested permission to place these stops or ‘stations’ in all Catholic churches so we, too, can mark the final moments of the One we love most.

This series of reflections is an attempt to help you walk with Jesus through His Passion…and perhaps to remember that He has also been walking with you. Through yours. This whole time.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

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