STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Fourteen — Jesus Is Laid Into The Grave, by Henri Nouwen

stations of the cross nouwen

From Walk With Jesus

Ayoung Salvadoran woman stands in front of the casket that holds the body of her cruelly executed husband.  She stands alone near the grave into which the casket will be lowered.  Her eyes are closed, her arms folded across her body.  She stands there barefoot, poor, empty. . . but very still.  A deep quiet surrounds her.  No shouts of grief, no cries of protest, no angry voices.  It seems as if this young widow is enveloped in a cloud of peace.  All is over, all is quiet, all is well.  Everything has been taken away from her, but the powers of greed and violence that robbed her of her lover can’t reach that deep solitude of her heart.  In the background stand her friends and neighbors.  They form a protective circle around her.  They honor and respect her solitude.  Some are silent; some whisper words of consolation; some try to explain to each other what happened; some embrace and cry.  But the woman stands there alone.  She understands something that the powers of death cannot understand.  There are a trust and confidence in her that are vastly more powerful than the weapons that killed her husband.  The solitude of the living and the solitude of the dead greet each other.


Joseph of Arimathea placed the body of Jesus “in a tomb which was hewn in stone and which had never held a body. . . .  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.  Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.  And on the Sabbath day they rested. . . .” (Luke 23:53-56)

There was deep rest around the grave of Jesus.  On the seventh day, when the work of creation was completed, God rested.  “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he rested after all his work of creating,” (Genesis 2:3).  On the seventh day of the week of our redemption, when Jesus had fulfilled all he was sent by his Father to do, he rested in the tomb, and the women whose hearts were broken with grief rested with him.  Of all the days in history, Holy Saturday – the Saturday during which the body of Jesus lay in the tomb in silence and darkness behind the large stone that was rolled against its entrance, (Mark 15:46) – is the day of God’s solitude.  It is the day on which the whole creation waits in deep inner rest.  It is the day on which no words are spoken, no proclamations made.  The Word of God through whom all had been made lay buried in the darkness of the earth.  This Holy Saturday is the most quiet of all days.  Its quiet connects the first not-yet-knowing world, the Temple with the new worship in the Spirit, the sacrifices of blood with the sacrifice of bread and wine, the Law with the Gospel.  This divine silence is the most fruitful silence that the world has ever known.  From this silence, the Word will be spoken again and make all things new.


We have much to learn about God’s resting in silence and solitude.  The Salvadoran woman at her husband’s graveside knew something about it.  She participated in it and trusted that it would bear fruit in her.  Even though we are surrounded by the racket of our world’s preoccupations, we, like this woman, can rest in God’s silence and solitude and let it bear fruit in us.  It is a rest that has nothing to do with not being busy, although that might be a sign of it.  The rest of God is a deep rest of the heart that can endure even as we are surrounded by the forces of death.  It is the rest that offers us the hope that our hidden, often invisible existence will become fruitful even though we cannot say how and when.  It is the rest of faith that allows us to live on with a peaceful and joyful heart even when things are not getting better, even when painful situations are not resolved, even when revolutions and wars continue to disrupt the rhythm of our daily lives.  This divine rest is known by all those who live their lives in the Spirit of Jesus.  Their lives are not characterized by quietness, passivity, or resignation.  On the contrary, they are marked by creative action for justice and peace.  But that action comes forth from the rest of God in their hearts and is, therefore, free from obsession and compulsion, and rich in confidence and trust.

Whatever we do or do not do in our lives, we need always to remain connected with the rest of the Holy Saturday when Jesus lay buried in the tomb and the whole of creation waited for all things to be made new.

1 Comment on STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Fourteen — Jesus Is Laid Into The Grave, by Henri Nouwen

  1. Marie Marrell // April 3, 2015 at 6:41 am // Reply

    Thank you, I started my day with this wonderful lesson.

    Like

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Henri Nouwen on Holy Saturday “The Day of God’s Solitude” | Lent & Beyond

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