Holy Week: Guarded by the authority of the Caesars…

-Holy Saturday-

And now a member of the Council arrived, a good and upright man named Joseph. He had not consented to what the others had planned and carried out. He came from Arimathaea, a Jewish town, and he lived in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He then took it down, wrapped it in a shroud and put it in a tomb which was hewn in stone and which had never held a body. It was Preparation day and the Sabbath was beginning to grow light. Meanwhile the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus were following behind. They took note of the tomb and how the body had been laid. (Luke 23:50-55)

 For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead[a] that, though condemned in the flesh in human estimation, they might live in the spirit in the estimation of God. (1 Peter 4: 6)

What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended into the lower [regions] of the earth? (Ephesians 4:9)

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; on the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

As we enter the Great Silence, begun at the end of Good Friday when Christ was laid in the tomb, we remember that all creation was holding its breath during that time.  Waiting. And let us be as silent as the grave as we wait, where as Chesterton reminds us, the guards themselves stood silent, with all the authority of the Caesars.

“They took the body down from the cross and one of the few rich men among the first Christians obtained permission to bury it in a rock tomb in his garden; the Romans setting a military guard lest there should be some riot and attempt to recover the body. There was once more a natural symbolism in these natural proceedings; it was well that the tomb should be sealed with all the secrecy of ancient eastern sepluchre and guarded by the authority of the Caesars. For in that second cavern the whole of that great and glorious humanity which we call antiquity was gathered up and covered over; and in that place it was buried. It was the end of a very great thing called human history; the history that was merely human. The mythologies and the philosophies were buried there, the gods and the heroes and the sages. In the great Roman phrase, they had lived. But as they could only live, so they could only die; and they were dead”

-G. K. Chesterton, The Strangest Story in the World, The Everlasting Man, 1926

image source: Cristo Velato By Liberonapoli – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

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