Read and listen to the Word of April 8, 2023
Holy Saturday the Church pause at the sepulcher of the Lord, meditating on his passion and death, as well as the descent into hell, and waiting for his resurrection, in prayer and fasting.
Stripped the sacred table, the Church he abstains from the sacrifice of the Mass until the solemn vigil or nocturnal expectation of the resurrection. The wait then gives way to Easter joy, which in its fullness lasts for fifty days.
On this day Holy Communion can only be given in the form of Viaticum. (Cf. Roman Missal p. 167)
Today's readings, Holy Saturday, are taken from the Liturgy of the Hours (Office of Readings)
From the Letter to the Hebrews
We must therefore fear that, while the promise to enter his rest still remains in force, some of you will be judged excluded. For we too, like them, have been proclaimed good news: unfortunately, however, the word they heard did not help them at all, since they did not remain united in faith with those who had listened. For we who have believed can enter into that rest, according to what he said:
So I swore in my wrath:
They will not enter my rest!
This, although his works were done from the foundation of the world. For it is said somewhere about the seventh day:IS God he rested on the seventh day from all his works. And again in this passage:They will not enter my rest!Since therefore it turns out that some have yet to enter into that rest, and those who first received the good news did not enter because of their disobedience, he again fixes a day,present day, saying in David after a long time:
Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts!
For if Joshua had brought them into that rest, God he would not speak, afterward, of another day. A sabbath rest is therefore still reserved for the people of God. For whoever has entered into his rest, he also rests from his works, as God from their own.
Let us therefore hasten to enter that rest, so that no one falls into the same type of disobedience.
Indeed the word of God it is alive and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword; it penetrates to the dividing point of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and scrutinizes the feelings and thoughts of the heart. There is no creature that can hide from him, but everything is naked and uncovered in his eyes and we have to give him an account.
Since therefore we have a great high priest, who has traversed the heavens, Jesus, Son of God, let us keep the profession of our faith firm. Indeed we do not have a high priest who does not know how to pity our infirmities, having himself been tested in all things, in the likeness of us, except sin. Let us therefore approach with full confidence the throne of grace, to receive mercy and find grace and be helped in time of need.
Gospel of the day
From the Gospel according to Matthew (quoted in the Responsory of the Office of Readings)
Mt 27, 62-66
The following day, the one after Parasceve, the high priests and the priests gathered with Pilate Pharisees, saying: «Lord, we remembered that that impostor said while he was alive: After three days I will rise again.
Order therefore that the tomb be kept watch until the third day, lest his disciples come, steal it, and then say to the people, He has risen from the dead.
So this last imposture would be worse than the first!». Pilate said to them: "You have your guard, go and secure yourself as you think." And they went and secured the tomb, sealing the stone and setting a guard.
Saint Chromatius of Aquileia (? – 407)
First discourse for the Great Night, SC 154
"This was a night of vigil for the Lord to bring them out of the land of Egypt" (Ex 12:42)
All vigils celebrated in honor of the Lord are pleasing to God and agrees to him, but this vigil is above all others.
That is why this night specifically bears the title of "vigil of the Lord". In fact we read: "This will be a night of vigil in honor of the Lord for all the Israelites, from generation to generation" (Ex 12:42). This night bears its title well, for the Lord has awakened alive so that we will not remain asleep in death. Indeed he suffered for us the sleep of death in the mystery of his Passion for him; but the sleep of the Lord became the waking of the whole world because the death of Christ he has driven away from us the sleep of eternal death.
He himself declares it through the prophet: "I lay down and fell asleep, I awoke, my sleep seemed sweet to me" (Ps 3:6; Jer 31:26). Of course, the sleep of Christ, which has called us back from the bitterness of death to the sweetness of life, could only be sweet. (…)
Solomon wrote: "I sleep, but my heart watches" (Song 5:2). These words clearly manifest the mystery of the divinity and of the Lord's flesh. He slept according to the flesh, but his divinity kept watch, for the divinity could not sleep. (…): “He will neither fall asleep nor sleep, the guardian of Israel” (Ps 121:4). (…)
He slept according to the flesh, but his divinity visited the underworld to bring out the man who was enslaved there; our Lord and Savior wanted to visit all places to give mercy to all.
He descended from heaven to earth to visit the world; he again descended from the earth to hell to bring light to those who were prisoners there, according to the word of the prophet: “The people who walked in darkness saw a great light; upon those who dwelt in the dark land a light shone." (Is 9,1). That is why angels in heaven, men on earth and the souls of the faithful in the abode of the dead celebrate this vigil of the Lord. (…)
If the repentance of a single sinner, as we read in the Gospel, is a cause of joy for the angels in heaven (Lk 15:7.10), how much more the redemption of the whole world? (…) This vigil therefore is not only a feast for men and angels, but also for the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, because the salvation of the world is the joy of the Trinity.
WORDS OF THE HOLY FATHER
May the Lord free us from this terrible trap, from being hopeless Christians, who live as if the Lord had not risen and the center of life were our problems.
The Consoler does not make everything look beautiful, does not eliminate evil with a magic wand, but instills the true strength of life, which is not the absence of problems, but the certainty of always being loved and forgiven by Christ, who conquered sin, death and fear for us.
Let us remember the Lord, his goodness and his words of life that have touched us; let us remember them and make them our own, to be sentinels in the morning who know how to see the signs of the Risen One. (Homily at the Easter Vigil, March 27, 2016)