Having grown up Catholic, I have offered up many things for Lent over the years.  I have always thought that fasting through Lent gave me a better connection to my faith.  By giving up something I would normally not give up, I have been able to stretch myself to grow in my faith throughout the years.  However, there have been Lenten seasons that I took more seriously than others.  On a few occasions, giving up chocolate or sweets has been the extent of my fasting.  Other times, I have made it a point to go to weekly Mass at least one time in addition to my regular Sunday Mass.  I have also done acts of service for others both inside and outside my home for my lent offerings.  The one thing that all these things have in common is that in the past I have always been in control of what I have given up or offered for Lent.  This year however, things are much different for everyone.

A Time of Uncertainty…

2020 will forever be remembered as a time of uncertainty for many people.

This year for Lent, many people are experiencing a pain that they may have never felt before.  The uncertainty and fear of the isolation they have been forced into has left many in a state of shock and worry.  Jobs are being lost, businesses are closing down, and people are simply feeling overwhelmed.  However, there is a hidden power in Lent that is often missed, even by “cradle Catholics”.  You know…those people who were born Catholic, and have up to this point remained Catholic…even if only during the holidays!  Holy Saturday is usually simply recognized as the day between Good Friday and Easter…or better known as the day between fish and candy!

Once a year, we focus on the Passion of Christ on Good Friday which goes into great detail to explain the torture and murder of Jesus.  It also shows the pain Jesus experienced and offers us a glimpse into His suffering.  There is also a great deal of focus on Easter when Jesus is resurrected and comes back to life.  This shows the victory over death when Jesus rises to His seat of Glory in Heaven.  Both of these events are of the utmost importance and much focus should be given to both of them.  But Holy Saturday is the day between these two events that many people don’t like to talk about.  The reason is because Holy Saturday deals with feelings that become too personal to all of us.  Holy Saturday focuses on those feelings of uncertainty and fear that the disciples were experiencing after Jesus died.

It’s Human Nature to Avoid Pain.

It is human nature to avoid pain.  We don’t like to talk about it, we don’t like to experience it, and we don’t want to acknowledge we are in pain.  It’s just easier to focus on the power of the resurrection on Easter and the victory of Jesus over death, than it is to push aside the isolation and uncertainty experienced on Holy Saturday.  However, Holy Saturday holds the key to being a follower of Jesus that we miss when we fail to in recognize this suffering.  God does not hide the fact that there is pain involved in being one of His followers.  In fact, when He tells people to “Take up your cross and follow me”, we often overlook the fact that the cross was not a symbol of victory in Jesus’ day.  It was in fact a symbol of pain and torture.  So when Jesus told people to take up their cross and follow Him, it was terrifying because it just didn’t make much sense at the time what He really meant.

People like to have “feel good” experiences.  For example, everyone was there for Jesus when he entered into Jerusalem because they expected Him to be the leader of their rebellion against the Romans.  They were having a great time shouting Hosanna’s and cheering for a victory they could understand.  They laid their cloaks and palm tree branches down for Him to enter upon, letting Him know they were there for His support.  But when Jesus is arrested, everyone left Him.  When He was tortured, no one spoke up in His support.  No one, not even Peter, spoke up for Jesus.  It’s easy to judge Peter’s actions and think we would never do the same thing to Jesus, but in fact many of us follow Jesus just like Peter did …at a distance.  When Jesus was arrested, everyone who hoped for a victory was overcome with fear and confusion.  Fear is something we don’t like to talk about.  Uncertainty is something we don’t like to talk about.  Worry is something we don’t like to talk about.

Up Close and Personal!

But this year Lent has become much more real and personal for everyone.  In fact, this Lent has become the most real, up close and personal lent I have ever experienced.  Holy Saturday is something we will all have a personal experience with this year because we are all feeling the same way the disciples of Jesus felt when He died… uncertain and fearful.  What were they supposed to do now?  How were they supposed to go back to any sort of normalcy in their own lives after having experienced a life with Jesus?  Would they be arrested and crucified as well?  Why is this happening?  This just turned their entire World upside down.  People would not accept them any longer and they would be forced into prolonged isolation and loneliness if Jesus was not raised from the dead.  This uncertainty is much like the fear many people are experiencing in today’s world.  Why is this happening?  What will happen next?  How and when will things go back to normal?

Our lack of understanding has created an opportunity for a great transformation to take place within our hearts.  Holy Saturday is a time to unleash the power of our faith and trust that God will bring us through this dark valley we are all experiencing.  In times of turmoil and uncertainty, our faith is tested much more than it would ever have been if we had not experienced this pain in the first place.  How can we know what happiness and joy is if we never experience pain?

God is here at home with us…YES, He is in the building we call church, but He is more than that…much more.  We cannot contain the greatness of God within a building…that would be to restrict God.  No – we are expected to bring God into our daily lives and face every situation with the peace and power that comes with being a true believer of Jesus.

Jesus Wins!

So this Holy Saturday, as you sit there quietly waiting for the chaos and confusion in your life to be over and things to get back to normal, focus on knowing that Jesus has already claimed you as His personal victory.  You have the power and faith to look past the darkness and focus on the light of Jesus.  Make this Holy Saturday a prayerful time of grateful thanksgiving and prayer.  Own the pain!  But know that it is only temporary, and that Jesus’ love for us is eternal.

My prayer for everyone this Holy Saturday is that they take a personal and deep look at their faith like never before.  It is a time to contemplate, to grow, to deepen your faith.  This Easter is going to be awesome because we can all understand what overcoming fear means a little more.  Unlock the power of Holy Saturday by allowing your pain to turn into faith.  Have a great Holy Saturday!