I will make a daring statement. A statement that is not backed up by any theological instruction, exegesis, or pontifical concordance. The statement expresses an observation that I have quietly held in my heart. It is a correlation I have made and contemplate every Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Jesus gave up His Spirit. The soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. They took him from the cross and placed Him in the arms of His mother, Mary.
“Now there was a man named Joseph from the Jewish town of Arimathea…went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud, and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning” (St. Luke 23:50-54).
A man named Joseph. A name in like kind of the foster father of Christ, St. Joseph. It is only fitting, in my humble opinion, that this man takes it upon himself to compassionately care for the body of Christ. This man who, like St. Joseph, “a good and righteous man…looking for the Kingdom of God” had the courage, like St. Joseph, to stand up to tyrannical leaders, to guard and care for the Church; to stand up for Christ. Like bookends in the earthly life of Christ this is one set. The great St. Joseph is called by God to remain the spouse of Mary and upon the birth of Jesus care for Him and protect them, bringing Him up in the faith. Upon His death we see the shadow of St. Joseph in Joseph of Arimathea, who lovingly cares for the beaten and battered body of Christ by wrapping Him in a linen shroud and ceremoniously placing Him in the tomb to rest.
While on earth we mourn and weep sorrowfully for what we have done to Our Lord and Savior. Tradition teaches that Jesus ‘descended to hell’ in order to liberate all the righteous and holy men and women who hope in and preached the coming of Christ. He descended to lift them up and bring them into the glory of Heaven, the gates of which had opened as the water and blood poured forth from His side. Most certainly St. Joseph was among those righteous and holy men.
But for us it is still Holy Saturday. For us we wait. We watch. We pray. We hope. Hope and prayers are real and efficacious. As we wait on this day I enjoy this quote from an ancient Homily for Holy Saturday,
Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.