Holy Saturday

In Christianity on April 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm

“There was a garden” (John 19:41).

On this holy day of quiet waiting, we give thanks “there was a garden”—a garden in which our Lord’s body could rest in anticipation of the Resurrection; a garden from which His casting-off of death promises the same to us!

I first heard the garden theme preached more than two decades ago, by a fundamentalist who had a love for literature, drama, and the arts. Those interests infused his message with a richness, confirming Hemingway’s observation that 90% of the power of good writing (and preaching) lies below the surface—giving it power and weight—like the invisible bulk of an iceberg below the sea. Yet this man lacked an understanding of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church; its richness, indeed its fullness (Ephesians 1:18-23).

What a joy then, this Holy Saturday morning, to read our Holy Father’s book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week from the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection and encounter the passage quoted below. It is a fitting and rich meditation for today.

Saint John . . . gives a theological interpretation to the place when he says: “across the Kidron valley, where there was a garden” (18:1). This same highly evocative word comes back at the end of the Passion narrative: “In the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid” (19:41). John’s use of the word “garden” is an unmistakable reference to the story of Paradise and the Fall. That story, he tells us, is being resumed here. It is in the “garden” that Jesus is betrayed, but the garden is also the place of the Resurrection. It was in the garden that Jesus fully accepted the Father’s will, made it his own, and thus changed the course of history.¹  [Italicized emphasis mine]

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