The Triumph Over The Tomb
Each Holy Saturday, we recall, with a heavy
heart, Jesus' sojourn into death in the tomb.
We are taught that "Christ died for
our sins in accordance with the scriptures;
He was buried; and He was raised on the third
day in accordance with the scriptures."
(1 Corinthians 15.3b-4) What significance
does His time in the tomb hold for our faith?
In the death of Jesus, the Church teaches
that His soul was separated from His
yet He did not experience the full
of death that those before Him had
"But God raised Him up, releasing
from the throes of death, because it
impossible for Him to be held by it…
was He abandoned to the netherworld
His flesh see corruption." (Acts
Though His mortal nature had passed
His divine nature preserved Him as
in union with His Father throughout
Reflecting on Christ's death, we are
to recall times when we tasted the
of death through the loved ones we
We experience death second-hand and
only one side - for the living, the
of death and beyond remains very much
Fear of this unknown ending to life
at the heart of much suffering in our
The fear of death can take root deep
heart, yielding a deep and overwhelming
of despair and lack of purpose. Throughout
our lives, we rely on relationships
others to provide our lives with meaning
and purpose. Death strips all of this
as we enter into the final act of life
alone. This was expressed by the Psalmist:
"I was caught by the cords of
the snares of Sheol had seized me;
agony and dread." (Psalm 116.3)
Jesus experienced this deep angst for
and for all humankind as He prepared
His own death at the garden of Gethsemane.
Uniting our hearts with His in times
we find solace and strength in prayer.
the Resurrected Christ, our hope is
The Psalmist prayed: "Then I called
on the name of the Lord, 'O Lord, save
life!' Gracious is the Lord and just;
our God is merciful… Return, my soul,
your rest; the Lord has been good to
For my soul has been freed from death,
eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before the Lord in the
of the living." (Psalm 116.4,5,7-9)
Jesus made the promise of salvation
death when He said: "Amen, amen,
to you, the hour is coming and is now
when the dead will hear the voice of
Son of God, and those who hear will
Do not be amazed at this, because the
is coming in which all who are in the
will hear His voice and will come out,
who have done good deeds to the resurrection
of life, but those who have done wicked
to the resurrection of condemnation."
(John 5.25,28-29) The life of the soul
everlasting; but eternal life in Christ
held for those who have awakened to
of their own sinfulness, have repented,
have accepted the mercy of Christ Jesus.
In our baptism, we symbolically shared
Christ's death to sin through immersion.
In baptism, seeds of hope in the promise
of eternal life in Christ are planted.
were indeed buried with Him through
into death, so that, just as Christ
from the dead by the glory of the Father,
we too might live in newness of life."
This poem expresses the hope of eternal
and its power over death:
The silence of the cold stone cave,
Entombed His flesh for the Sabbath;
Beyond the confines of the grave,
His soul pierced through the shroud
The gates of hell could not prevail
O'er the Firstborn who holds the key;
The Savior's power cannot fail
For those who trust in His mercy.
The fear of death has lost its sting;
Hope in eternal life is born
In Him, whose death and suffering,
Yielded new life on Easter morn.
Love has reached past life's last frontier;
We hope in Him as death draws near.
Holy Spirit, strengthen my hope in
of despair and in the face of death,
the surety of God's merciful love and
promise of eternal life may sustain
at the hour of death. Amen.
New American Bible - Catholic Edition
Catechism of the Catholic Church,
Paragraphs 624 - 637
Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to
© 2004 Ignatius Press, San Francisco,
293 - 301
(c) Paul Buis, 2007