“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.” Matthew 27:57-61
It doesn’t get much darker than this. The lifeless body of the fallen Messiah is wrapped up in linen. He is gingerly laid in the dark, tepid hollow of a boulder. Surely this is the end. The words that once brought life are silenced and shamed. The defeat of this moment is akin to a young mother who has lost her first born child in labor, or the cruelty and violence of rape; the isolation of dementia or the annihilation of a race of people. There seems to be no hope in the darkness of Holy Saturday. Even Joseph of Arimathea walks away with his head hung.
And yet, Mary and Mary are there. What are they waiting to see? Who is left to dry the streaks of salt trailing down their cheeks? There are almost no tears left, no emotion to spend when one has suffered the trauma that they have. All one can do is stare at the stone door of the tomb, blankly.
We know how Mary and Mary’s tomorrow will end. But in the crushing blows of our own lives, we rarely remember that tomorrow bears the new light. Instead, we sit like the hopeless/hopeful Marys, catatonic and bruised. Their presence at the tomb meant that even the most tragic stories have even a smallest grain of hope. In those times, we, too, can sit and wait, not knowing exactly for what, and maybe we will be reminded that an Easter will come. Light will come. Christ will come. And our mouths may begin to slowly form the word we have been waiting to speak…Alleluia.