Today is Holy Saturday, a day of waiting, of holding our breath, of standing on one foot and trying to keep our balance between the tragedy of Good Friday, and the coming joy of the Easter Vigil.
I've read that the Tridium -- the days of Maundy (or Holy) Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening -- are all a single liturgy, a single event, experienced in three parts. How must it have felt for Jesus's closest disciples, going through these three days without (as we do) knowing there was going to be a happy ending? There they were, in what should have been the joyful season of Passover, suffering through an agonizing loss: suffering grief, and doubtless guilt as well. Should I have died with him? Why did I deny him? Couldn't I have shouted louder at Pilate when he asked if we wanted Jesus or Bar-Abbas? and even How could I have betrayed him?
They didn't know about Easter, yet. For them the waiting was a time to grieve, and also to try to figure out what to do next. Go home? Hide? Split up? Every step at the door was terrifying. Just speaking in a Galilean accent was incriminating. They must have been beyond hope.
But we are not. We can look forward to the amazing encounters - Jesus in a locked room, Jesus by the seashore, Jesus on the road to Emmaus. I wonder, if only, if only Judas had waited a couple of days before taking his own life, and had given himself a chance to encounter the risen Jesus, what kind of saint he might have made.
This evening we will light candles, ring bells, and sing Alleluia with a full heart. But today, during the day, we are waiting. We are spared the terror of the first disciples, but not the waiting. The time drags on, and the waiting takes as long as it takes. But we know that in the end we will be able to release our breath, stand on both feet and rejoice.
So today, let us honor the waiting. And clasp the joy, when it comes, like a long-lost friend.