The Body of Christ lay in the tomb. The world was in darkness.
Mary was the only light still burning on earth.
Commentaries by Don Gueranger from the Liturgical Year
Let us also return to the Sepulchre, and adore the Body of our buried Jesus. Now, at last, we understand what sin has done: by sin, death entered into the world, and it passed upon all men (Rom. 5: 12). Though Jesus knew no sin (2 Cor. 5: 21), yet has He permitted death to have dominion over Him, in order that He might make it less bitter to us, and by His Resurrection restore unto us that Eternal Life, of which we had been deprived by sin. How gratefully we should appreciate this death of our Jesus! By becoming Incarnate, He became a servant (Phil. 2: 7); His death has a still deeper
humiliation. The sight of this tomb, wherein His Body lies lifeless and cold, teaches us something far more important than the power of death: it reveals to us the immense, the incomprehensible love of God for man. He knew that we were to gain by His humiliations; the greater His humiliations, the greater our exaltation; this was His principle, and it led Him to what seems like an excess! Let us, then, love this Sacred Sepulchre, which is to give us Life. We have thanked Him for having died for us upon the Cross; let us thank Him, but most feelingly, for having humbled Himself, for our sake,
even to the tomb!
And now let us visit the Holy Mother, who has passed the night in Jerusalem, going over, in saddest memory, the scenes She has witnessed. Her Jesus has been a victim to every possible insult and cruelty; He has been crucified; His Precious Blood has flowed in torrents from those five Wounds; He is dead, and now lies buried in yonder tomb, as though He were a mere man, yea the most abject of men. How many tears have fallen, during these long hours, from the eyes of the Daughter of David! And yet, Her Son has not come back to Her! Near Her is Magdalene; heart-broken by yesterday’s events, she has no words to tell her grief, for Jesus is gone, and, as she thinks, for ever. The other women, less loved by Jesus than Magdalene, yet most dear to Him, stand around the
disconsolate Mother. They have braved every insult and danger in order to remain on Calvary till all was over and they intend returning thither with Magdalene, as soon as the Sabbath is over, to honor the tomb and the Body of Jesus.
John, the adopted son of Mary, and the beloved disciple of Jesus, is oppressed with sorrow. Others, also, of the Apostles and disciples, visit the house of mourning. Peter, penitent and humble, fears not to appear before the Mother of Mercy. Among the disciples are Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. We may easily imagine the conversation: it is on the sufferings and death of Jesus, and on the ingratitude of the Jews. The Church, during Tenebrae, represents these men as saying, “Behold! How the Just One dieth, and there is none that taketh it to heart. Iniquity has had its way. He is silent as a lamb under his shearer, and He opened not His mouth. He was taken away from distress and judgment; but His memory shall be in Peace.”
Thus speak the men; the women are thinking of their morrow’s visit to the Sepulchre. The saintliness of Jesus, His Goodness, His Power, His Sufferings, His Death - everything is remembered, except His Resurrection, which they had often heard Him say should certainly and speedily take place. Mary alone lives in expectation of His Triumph. In Her was verified that expression of the Holy Ghost, where, speaking of the valiant woman, He says, “Her lamp shall not be put out in the night.” (Prov. 31: 18) Her courage fails not, because she knows that the Sepulchre must yield up its Dead, and Her Jesus will rise again to Life. St. Paul tells us that our religion is vain, unless we have Faith in the
Mystery of our Lord’s Resurrection: where was this Faith on the day after our Lord’s death? In one heart only - and that was Mary’s. As it was Her chaste womb that had held within it, Him whom Heaven and earth cannot contain, so, on this day, by Her firm and unwavering Faith, She resumes within her single self, the whole Church. How sacred is this Saturday, which, notwithstanding all its sadness, is such a day of glory to the Mother of Jesus! It is on this account that the Church has consecrated to Mary the Saturday of every week.
banishment, which is a consequence of Adam’s sin; and, as they see the time drawing nigh for their deliverance, their joy is beyond all we can imagine.
The Son of God is to open the Gates of Heaven: hence, His Soul, having been separated from His Body by death, was to descend into the depths of the earth and become a companion with the holy exiles there. What must have been the joy of these countless saints! No sooner did our Jesus breathe His last upon the Cross, than the limbo of the saints was illumined with Heavenly Splendor. The Soul of the Redeemer, united to the Divinity of the Word, descended thither, and changed it from a place of banishment into a very Paradise. Thus did He fulfill the promise He made to the good thief, “This day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.”
The Soul of our Jesus makes its presence felt also by the just who dwell in the abode of expiation. It mercifully alleviates their sufferings, and shortens their purgatory. Many of them are delivered altogether, and numbered with the saints in limbo, where they spend the forty days, between this and the Ascension, in the happy expectation of ascending to Heaven with their Deliverer.
His Soul does not descend into the hell of satan, but He makes His power felt there. The prince of this world is now forced to bend his knee and humble himself. In this Jesus, Whom he has instigated the Jews to crucify, he now recognizes the Son of God. The cross which he had so exultingly prepared for the Just One, has been his overthrow.