Holy Saturday retreat: ‘An absolutely powerless God’

Fr. J

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Holy Saturday retreat: ‘An absolutely powerless God’
Holy Saturday is an invitation to do what Jesus did: to discard our crown. It is a call to self-dethronement.

The Holy Saturday Invitation

We believe that on Holy Saturday,
our Lord made a descent into hell,
not so much the eternal damnation reserved for sinners,
but where the dead were relegated
prior to our redemption by Jesus.

Rejecting the third temptation,
our Lord refused to worship the devil
and the worldly crown it promised him.
But in his death, he made himself one with all –
the best of saints as well as the very worst of sinners –
and in his lifelessness,
he embraced utter poverty and powerlessness.

The Lord of Holy Saturday is an oxymoron –
an absolutely powerless God.

Why is it so important
to be poor and powerless?

Pope Francis has this to say:

It is only by stripping ourselves of our riches –
indeed of all that we are attached to, that we find ourselves grasping
that we can be united with the least of our brothers and sisters.

That is exactly what God has set out to do.
Ours indeed is not a God Who has kept His distance,
but One Who desires to be near us
and in Jesus has truly become one of us.
By embracing our humanity –
including and especially its most unpleasant and painful experiences –
our Lord Jesus can now tell us:

“You are not alone. You are never alone.
What you are feeling right now,
what you are experiencing,
no matter how painful, no matter how dark,
I’ve been there, done that!
I truly understand.”

Jesus has been able to do that
only by discarding the divine crown
and dethroning himself.

Holy Saturday is an invitation to do what Jesus did:
To discard our crown.
It is a call to self-dethronement.

St Paul puts it so beautifully
in his letter to the Philippians:
Our Lord did not count his equality with God
“a thing to be grasped.”

Philippians by pinslight

Pope Francis image via Shutterstock/Giulio Napolitano

Crown of thorns image via Shutterstock

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