Reflections for

Holy Saturday, Apr 15, 2017

Job 14:1-14 or Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24; Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16; 1 Peter 4:1-8; Matthew 27:57-66 or John 19:38-42


Disposal of the body

So Jesus’ wealthy friends did prove useful in the end.
All four narratives seem to agree on this.
Joseph, after all—the one from Arimathea, not his Dad—
Joseph pulled strings with Pilate. Did he have to call in
a few favors earned in questionable ways
so he could claim possession of the corpse?
Old Nicodemus too, Jesus’ night-shift friend from the Sanhedrin,
Nicodemus makes his own fleeting reprise,
carting along a ton—almost—of fragrant spices,
nard and myrrh (again!), for preservation purposes.
Although where he got such pricey stuff,
late on a holiday Friday afternoon, is never quite explained.
And that convenient, fresh-hewn, garden tomb;
even back in the day, sepulchres such as those
did not come ten-a-penny! Add in all the hired help
they must have needed to get stuff from here to there
and, of course, to roll and seal that massive rock . . .
Whole thing makes you wonder—doesn’t it?—
wonder if that narrow needle’s eye got prized wide open—
camel-size, at least—to accommodate these late allies.


Cricket song

My head clangs, my skin congeals
when I imagine your final terrain:
the moldering gloom of the cave,
giant stone corking the mouth
to seal your body in—
you bid me to imitate you, even in this?
Until you rise, Love, I am useless.
Stretching in a long
rectangle of wall-shade,
I pretend my hand crumbles
dank sepulchral dirt. Listen.
In the corner, one cricket abides.
Soft-shelled and tooth-white,
he chirrs his dwarfed wings,
persistent song his answer
to the absence of light.


Michelangelo, Pietà

Hewn from some polar
air they make us breathe
just to look on here,
they appear doubles,
son, mother, one death,

Christ, his body bent,
broken on her lap,
stretches beyond pain.
Mary, suffering
His death till her own
looks out, straight into us.

Why did I bear him?
How can this be mine?
You who have come from
where the living live,
what do mothers do?

On Art

John After Delacroix

In the foreground of Eugène Delacroix’s classic The Entombment of Christ is a poignant image of the disciple John sitting, bent forward, contemplating the crown of thorns. By painting John and the crown alone, Ebenezer Sunder Singh shines a spotlight on this pregnant moment, offering a chance to ponder the wisdom of God which seems like folly to human beings. “The image of the thorn crown is a recurring phenomenon in my works over many years,” says the artist. “I use it as a compulsive pictorial symbol, and at the same time I revere it as the symbol of pain, shame and hope. I think John in Delacroix’s painting knows this secret, so he is contemplating this symbol of recreation and regeneration.” Singh’s work is shown frequently in galleries in the U.S. and India.

—Lois Huey-Heck


Revised Common Lectionary © 1992 the Consultation on Common Texts. Used by permission.