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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Holy Saturday
Memory of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The Jews celebrate the beginning of Passover

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Luke 23, 50-56

And now a member of the Council arrived, a good and upright man named Joseph.

He had not consented to what the others had planned and carried out. He came from Arimathaea, a Jewish town, and he lived in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God.

This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

He then took it down, wrapped it in a shroud and put it in a tomb which was hewn in stone and which had never held a body.

It was Preparation day and the Sabbath was beginning to grow light.

Meanwhile the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus were following behind. They took note of the tomb and how the body had been laid.

Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. And on the Sabbath day they rested, as the Law required.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

A good and just person did not agree with the decision to kill Jesus, and out of this dissent comes an act of mercy for the dead man. The man who does not agree is Joseph of Arimathaea. Another Joseph arrives at the end of Jesus’ life, lowers him from the cross, wraps him in a linen cloth, and lays him in a new tomb. He is joined by the women who had been following Jesus. In front of the tomb, in front of the pain of this world, in front of death, in front of the sleep of the disciples, and in front of suffering, the only thing that remains is faith in the words of Jesus who entrusted himself to the Father. Luke writes, "It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning." Perhaps in addition to the lights of a city waking up, that morning also saw the light of a new hour, the dawning of a new day for Jesus and for the world. In front of widespread pain, those who do not agree with the decision to kill and oppress are not only called to weep, but also to believe, pray, and hope for a different hour. The Church’s tradition -founded on those passages of Scripture that speak of Jesus’ descent to hell—would have Jesus descend to the "underworld," the dwelling place of the dead, to gather them, beginning with Adam and Eve, and take them with himself on this day to Paradise. It is the Easter icon venerated in the Orthodox tradition. The resurrection begins here. And Jesus continues today to descend into the "hells" of this world, to pluck from the hands of death all those who have been violated by evil and to take them with him to heaven. He continues to say to them, too: "Today you will be with me in Paradise."

Holy Saturday